Making Space

This morning my house is chaos.

The cats are chasing the big Labradors through the living room.

The children are chasing the cats.

There is barking and screaming and general sounds and acts of glee.

The eldest teenager snores softly in his room.

The Hot Latin Husband settles “an emergency from Mexico” at his bedroom office upstairs.

The quiet Asperger son watches a silent documentary about Origami in his tightly closed bedroom.

And me? I tap away at my computer, I flip through Poets & Writers, making a repetitive mental list of all my “to-do” and “have not yet completed” lists. They spin on an invisible guilt-fueled merry-go-round inside my head. Outside my window, ice pelts the roof of my old Pennsylvania Dutch Farmhouse and the dogwood tree shakes its bare scraggy, ice-weathered arms like an old man in the snow. It distracts me. I see a story in it, but the sound of a crash upstairs and the smell of burning rubber from the vacuum cleaner downstairs, distracts me.

I am a writer. Who cares, right?

This means that I write while others demand from me. I write while dinner burns. I write while the car is parked and waiting for children to come racing from their school doors at the end of the day. I write in berween teaching other people to write. I write while the I wait in line at the post office. I write to pay the bills that ever end. I write to explain a political position. I write to work out the mysteries of faith. I write because it is who I am as much as what I do.

But the world does not stop knocking, unless it’s holding one of my published articles, stories or essays in its hands. And even then, it holds its fist for only a moment before the pounding begins again.

The students continue to call, “Can you make me a better writer?”, “Can you teach me English?”, “Can you help little Johnny learn to read?”, “Can you teach in my preschool?”

Can you just let me write?

But no. I must push away and clear the space myself.

There are pockets of publishing in the world, even for me. I am being published in two literary magazines this year. I have an editor at a major publisher who is interested in one of my four completed manuscripts. I have been accepted to three prestigious MFA programs, but chose an MA instead and it’s like a literary flogging, with Chaucer and mid-16th century vowel shifts at the helm. My cradle Catholic soul thrives.

But the world that wants my work will also take it away if I do not, sometimes, shut the door.

Writers write, or they aren’t writers.

While I nodded, nearly napping,
Suddenly, there came a tapping
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
‘Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, ‘tapping at my chamber door –
‘Only this, and nothing more.’

The Raven – Edgar Allen Poe

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