I’ve written a TON these past two weeks.
I don’t know exactly what it was that got me going but I was up writing some nights until two in the morning and it felt ridiculously good, y’all. One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes states:
“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on a mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.'”
Isn’t she just awesome?
(Awesome is most definitely not the most enlightened or beautiful descriptor but hey, she is.)
Someone pointed out to me not very long ago (you know who you are!) I tend to write more in the dark than I do light. It’s true, really. I write better when I’m sad than I do when I’m happy. I love to write when it’s raining outside and I am better at turning a terrible day into writing fuel than I am a really great day.
What I did one night this week was write short snippets with no backstory or intent to continue further and tried to create my version of “happy scenes.” I wrote six but I’m going to share two, mainly for THIS reason:
Even though they were supposed to be “happy” when I went back over them – none of them were comprised of 100% happy elements.
I was disappointed with myself at first because I could see my tendency toward negativity and cynicism leaking through even though I’d been trying not to. Yet, how can there be light without darkness, right?
It was a good lesson for me – learning some balance. Self-observation and self-criticism along side some pretty terrible happy scenes. What I learned is I need to push myself to expand out of my “favorite” way of thinking. Travel into areas of positivism and morality that aren’t necessarily foreign but maybe not as well-discovered.
(I kept telling myself as I wrote: “Brianna, you need more Jesus.“)
“So there I am. Buck ass naked. Singing Celine Dion at the top of my lungs and I hear a car pull in the parking lot behind me. Didn’t think much of it, just kept on singing, right? Then someone starts tapping on my shoulder and I’m waving them off and I’m like – ‘Come on, Buddy. I’m trying to win my girl back, here.’ And the tapping just keeps getting more and more pushy. Finally, I turn around and I’m ready to get in this guy’s face and there stands-”
“Me,” I murmur, standing at the stove watching my husband wave his hands in the air dramatically while telling his story.
Crows of laughter bounce around my kitchen as the boys kick back at the table.
“I serenaded this woman for almost thirty minutes and she wasn’t even in her damn apartment,” he laughed, smiling across the table at me. Deep shadows burrowed under his eyes, the stress of harvest and long hours draining his usual un-expendable energy. Cold beers were leaving water stains on my new table but I didn’t have the heart to tell them to use the coasters. They were all so exhausted from the past few weeks yet glad to have just an hour to themselves before heading their separate ways. Six of them, all farmers tans and dirty socks leaving a pile of boots at my door. They’d grown up together; they’d suffered broken bones in football and long work days together in the hay and the dirt, bought each other whiskey shots after fist fights, shared best-man toasts and godfather promises.
Four frozen pizzas, two twelve packs, and a million stories later we all said our goodbyes. The call of “see-ya-in-the-morning”s echoed through the night as I stood on my porch and waited for everyone to get safely off the gravel road.
“Sorry about your table,” Jake murmured, wrapping his arms around me and pulling me into him. “I will have you know, I used a coaster.”
Giggling, I nestled into his chest; the smell of alcohol and dust and him radiated off in waves.
“You stink,” I teased, reaching up to kiss his jaw. “Let’s go take a shower.”
Gazing out the window, I spotted three of the pups attempting to rip a sheet off the line before Patrick could grab and stop them. He had on his favorite cowboy boots, already growing too small for his feet and holes wearing through the soles; we’d discussed the fact we’d soon have to buy a new pair and he’d grumbled for hours.
He was like his daddy in ways I could practically count as I watched him wrestle pups and chase them down in the yard. His dark hair stuck out at odd angles, thick and wavy and unruly. I watched him attempt to keep a stern face as he stomped his foot to tell them no, finally cracking into a smile when they started to lick mud off his legs. His hands were gentle as he picked them up and crowned each of them princes of PatrickLand.
“I can’t believe he’s going to start kindergarten,” Momma murmured, rolling out pie crust.
Nodding, I leaned further into the counter and watched him for a few seconds more before returning to the pile of homework in front of me. I was only two months away from my Masters yet it felt like I was only getting further behind.
“Your eyebrows are gonna get stuck like that,” Momma kept on, spurring for conversation. “I know you’re nervous but put it away for a bit while you’re here. Relax, Bee.”
Flicking my eyes up, I caught hers and held them. I had always been aware most people thought their mother was the most beautiful woman on the earth but mine truly was aging so achingly graceful.
“Fine,” I smiled. “I know you won’t let me help. So, why don’t you tell me what happened at the Senior Center yesterday. I could hear it in your voice when you called me.”
A blush flamed up Momma’s cheeks, something I hadn’t seen in the three years since my daddy had passed.
“Snap, crackle, pop. It was a guy, wasn’t it?”
I quickly stood, circling the edge of the counter in half a second.
“You tell me right now,” I continued, getting as close as I could to her without being in the way.
Her hands remained busy, movements memorized from years of baking and preparing. I reached across and yanked a piece of corner dough off and smiled at the frown she threw at me.
“I didn’t want to tell you because you’ve been so busy. You’re in the phase of your life where you’re doing everything you can to stay afloat- mother, wife, teacher, sister, daughter. You don’t need to be a relationship consultant, too,” she sighed. “But I have not even the faintest idea how to handle Morgan.”
Screeching, I reached across and hugged my mother’s shoulders, jumping up and down before I could stop myself.
“Are you serious? Morgan Hanson? Momma, that’s great! He’s a wonderful man,” I said, turning her so I could see her eyes. “Tell me what happened. All of it.”
- We all have our different versions of “happy” – I found in each of the six snippets I wrote there were elements of familial love, hard work, and safety. There was a “mother” figure in four of the six. There was a farmer in three of the six and a police officer in one. There was a dog in five of the six, too.
I think we can discover a lot about ourselves when we freewrite, as well. I tried not to think as I started each new scene – I wanted to just ‘go with the flow’ and see what came out of the deal. In my mind, each scene was just SO different but when I read them all together, they fit like pieces of a puzzle, creating a picture of what “happy” means to me. I didn’t once find a perfect character and I didn’t find a single mention of millions of dollars. (Although that would certainly be nice, wouldn’t it?)
Copyright © 2016 Pearl Bayou