On Saturday, I began a poem as I was sitting in the last of the author presentations at the Millersville Literary Festival. I wrote, “I didn’t even know I was drowning.” It’s true. I knew I was searching for something, trying to break out of ruts, to focus my scattershot writing process, to find others like me. I’ve been resisting settling into my identity of Teacher because there has been this other powerful identity pushing up like a long-dormant wisdom tooth, painfully shoving everything else to the side. I call myself Poet, but I don’t seem to know what that means. I secretly call myself Writer, but I don’t know how to create a picture of that in my life, one that means Me. Here’s the blog, there’s a stack of 200-some poems that are essentially unpublishable because I have already published them on the blog and on Facebook, over there is the half-plotted novel with a couple of messy chapters hanging out of its drawers, and over there another half-formed, half-written book on magic and spirituality and the Wheel of the Year.
I’m not sure entirely what that life preserver consists of, but I felt it within my grasp at the exact moment that I realized I have been sinking. Community of writers, perhaps–the theme of the festival. There are others like me, teaching and writing and parenting, feeling the pressures of all the pieces, and still forging forward. I’ve spent the last six years feeling like I was putting the real Writer in the backseat so I could focus on being the Teacher, and the ten years before that squelching the Writer so I could be Mother and Farmer.
It’s time to begin swimming with both arms, and to kick with my feet. Stop pretending that I am just a pretender. Live into the Writer’s identity, so that I can stop fighting being the Teacher, and let them dance together. Let them both hold me up.
sI didn’t realize I was drowning until I was no longer drowning. Take a deep gulp of air, slip into the circle of that glorious floaty ring, whatever its name is, swim with both arms and kick with my feet. Here we go.
And here are some poets and writers you need to research: Ewa Chrusciel, Julie Doxsee, Maria James Thiaw, Meghan Kenny, Le Hinton, Barbara Strasko, Shawna Stoltzfoos, Tyler Barton.
1. Writers. Storytellers. Poets. Visionaries. Thinkers.
2. The life preserver
3. That particular red of certain oak leaves in early November
4. Considering the stories of the goddesses who descend–Ishtar/Inanna, Persephone–and Mother Holle, who mentors the young women who seek themselves within their depths
5. Giving myself permission
May we walk in Beauty!