Wednesday, December 10, 2014

For Love of a Sentence

A well-known writer got collared by a university student who asked, "Do you think I could be a writer?"
"Well," the writer said, "I don't know…. Do you like sentences?"
The writer could see the student's amazement. Sentences? Do I like sentences? I am twenty years old and do I like sentences? If he had liked sentences, of course, he could begin, like a joyful painter I knew. I asked him how he came to be a painter. He said, "I liked the smell of the paint."
The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

A few weeks ago, a friend posted on Facebook saying, "I read today that what you loved to do for fun when you were ten is similar to what you love to do today." 

When I was ten, I'm pretty sure I was in my dress designing phase where I was positive if I could just learn how to sew, I could make gorgeous ball gowns for real live fairy tale princesses. Mom got me sewing lessons. I systematically broke every sewing machine they placed in front of me. Some things just aren't meant to be.

Here we are napping together. Can't you tell?

When I was ten, I didn't like children. I mean, children that weren't me, of course. Does ten count as a child still? I never did that whole babysitting thing. It wasn't in my wheelhouse. Guess what I do now? Oh yeah, lots of children. That's okay. They're cute because they're related to me, so…I guess we'll give that one a pass.

When I was ten, I really liked to read. I mean, really (really) liked to read. And I liked to write. But only if people told me that what I was writing was brilliant beyond belief. I wish I was kidding about that part. But you know what the great part about reading is? No one can tell you you're doing it wrong. It's great. The writing thing? Leaves behind plenty of evidence about whether or not you're stupid.

Bruiser and Bee like to play a hybrid game of tug-of-war and peekaboo with Tiny's pajamas.

Some days I may be a bit on the stupid side. Then I pick reading over writing. It's a smart choice. And then because I feel smarter because of making the good choice to read (and hopefully reading something intelligent), I start to think I may be smart enough to start writing again.

This is a rabbit trail.

I have no idea how much sugar Tiny ingested while we were making Christmas cookies in order to achieve that smile.

Moving on

Last week I read Annie Dillard's The Writing Life (while reading about monasteries in other books) so I've been thinking rather a lot about vocation. Plus, I had a birthday, so I'm spending an inordinate amount of time asking myself what I'm doing with my life.

The obvious answer is, I'm raising four kids (thankfully, the Man and I make a pretty good tag team in this area). But other than that (on the days when there is time for something other than that), what am I doing? I'm reading and writing. It's what I love to do. Someday I hope someone will pay me to do it, but in the meantime, I'm doing what I love and that's it.

We got creative with our icing methods.

Annie Dillard says to:

Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?

So, if you were dying and I was dying this is what I would say to you (not really): I love sentences. I love reading them and I love writing them. Sometimes I even like saying them out loud. So I'm going to spend my time working on sentences--sometimes I may even sentence my children to bed before dessert so that my two worlds will meet.

What do you love? Does it happen to be what you loved when you were ten? Or are you branching out in your old age?

This kid asks to hold my hand just because, wants to take pictures with me, and told his dad that I'm always nice.
So basically he lied. Who wouldn't love that?


  1. That last photo of Smigs and Tam with the huge smile gives boatloads of insights into their personalities. And when I was 10 I liked reading and eating candy and messing with your mind--none of those things have changed, but I've branched out into a few other things and some things I hated at 10 I really love now, like coconut and swimming and nieces and nephews (OK-I didn't hate them at 10, but I felt a complete lack of interest in them).