Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Empty Dumpty

Umee, Umee, what do you see?
I see two babies looking at me
…Wait, help! I can’t see anything else.

Writing fits perfectly with a stay-at-home mom’s routine, and it’s the one craft that actually got more fun after kids. Writing is my therapy, escape, morning cup of coffee, contribution to human consciousness. When I really want to enjoy myself, I buy an inspirational writing book from the bookstore, because those repetitive little mantras make me so excited about clothbound notebooks, textured paper, and ballpoint pens. I start to dream in yellowed pages and pretty, stately fonts.

Almost every book on writing starts out with beating writer’s block, getting over the self-doubt and perfectionism that hinders writers from sitting down to perform their painful magic. But I confess—I rarely have writer’s block. I don’t resist writing or put it off. Revved up and ready, when I have a topic in mind I can’t wait to sit down and scribble away, no matter how disjointed it comes out. I have fun doing it because I know writing is a process and I have to go through many, many rewrites before I will ever produce something winning.

But it’s not all good. My head is a quarter-of-a-century-old piggy bank with a couple of dimes rattling around inside. Experience, adventure, in-depth knowledge have been very sparse with their allowances, and I struggle to find the rich, colorful words and objects and emotions to weave into my work. I might like to write, but my life is too shallow for the words to live there.

So, when I sit at the computer all psyched, this is what happens:

Hm, let’s see. (hee hee, I’m so excited!)

I end up writing about green popsicles. Or about a telemarketer for Wyndham Resorts who wouldn’t let up even though my kids were screaming in the background—do you really like whiny little kids at your luxury resorts? Sometimes I write about my own circular thinking traps, or about the hunky-dory life of a lonely housewife, or try on a writing style that isn’t my own--trust me, no one wants to hear those threads. The only promising vein of imagery in my head is along this line: leather-soled baby shoes, dimpled toes; sippy cups of every material and shape; felt squares, sequins, and Elmer’s Glue; The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Blueberries for Sal.

I love writing about my kids, but I doubt my friends enjoy hearing about them constantly. You would think, given my resume (oh YEEAAH, haha, remember those?), that I would have a lot more junk sitting around in my mind. But I can’t seem to dig it out. I’m not the well-rounded hip mama who will chit chat and smartly put pop culture in then out of diapers.

When I get a rare non-child-inspired writing moment, I will keep it on life support as long as I can. Until then, I'm afraid the only nourishment here for your mind are smooshed fries and fish crackers.


Saman said...

I find that a good writer is one who engages the reader, keeps their attention and directs it to a topic they may have otherwise never cared about. Good writing is good writing. It transcends the subject the author wishes to write about and is recognizable as something worthy of merit in and of itself. I don't have kids yet so I can't always relate to your posts but I find them enjoyable, nonetheless. That's called talent, Maha, so give yourself a pat on the shoulder ;) Whether they are on kids or your frustrations finding diverse topics to write about, your posts are charming and fun t read. So don't worry so much about finding different subject matter. But until you do, smooshed french fries and fish crackers will suffice!

Duaa said...

Maha, are you kidding me? I love reading your kid topics! It inspires me to write about my own experiences and makes me feel like there's somebody out there who's going through the same ups and downs of motherhood...

Whenever I am feeling down or frustrated, I click on your blog (it's one of my favorites) and it always cheers me up and makes me laugh!

Sarah said...

i totally agree with saman and duaa - i *love* reading your posts, and i *love* reading about how the girls are doing: subhan'Allah, everything in our life is granted to us as something to reflect on, and your ability to reflect on your children is a blessing - and pure joy to read. :)