My favourite parking spaces are occupied, so I drop the boys off and start round two of the hunt. All the usual spots are inexplicably taken. It’s snowing a little, but the temperature hovers obstinately above freezing and the streets are deep in slushy puddles. The going is tough. The city is behind on snow removal, parking spots are scarce, and plenty of cars are taking up an awful lot of the pavement. My mirror nearly touches theirs as I slowly slide my car down the streets.
I sigh and turn down another side street. Grr! The red and white no parking signs that indicate snow removal is imminent taunt me from atop the snow banks. No wonder I can’t find a space. I do a quick check of my rear view mirror, touch my brakes and pause. Deep breath. Snow removal is good, I remind myself. Yes, I will likely spend a lot of time trying to find parking tonight, but tomorrow and the days that follow will be much easier.
10 long minutes later, I find a spot. It’s not ideal, but it’s good enough for tonight.
I’m reading Gregor the Overlander out loud while my older son draws. He’s sketching another manga character, and he’s not happy with the result. As I turn a page he snarls, “I hate this! It’s terrible!” He’s about to crumple the drawing, but my hand catches his before his fingers close around the paper.
“Hey,” I say quietly, “give it a second. What’s wrong with your picture?”
“It looks awful.” He’s looking away from his picture, not at it.
“Mmm. Can you tell me about it?”
He hates it all. I suggest if it’s that bad then it would make a really great place to experiment – just try a few new things. On second thought, he hates a few particular parts. Then he just really hates… wait, maybe he could…
He goes back to drawing; I continue to read.
The first week back to school after the winter break, I couldn’t bring myself to publish a blog post; I couldn’t find anything that rang true. Every word I wrote seemed to leave out another. I didn’t think it was awful, exactly, but I couldn’t find Hemingway’s one true sentence (even though, I’m just putting this out there, I really don’t like Hemingway). I wrote and deleted, wrote and threw away. I struggled, then I gave up in a huff.
The next week I paid attention and by Monday I had plenty of observations to choose from. To avoid writer’s block, I decided to write by hand first. I got as far as the date.
I had to pause. I didn’t have much choice: I clearly wasn’t going to write a slice of life by beating myself up.
Tonight, no parking spot magically appeared; my son’s drawing didn’t suddenly become excellent. Pausing didn’t solve things, but neither did it mean giving up.
So here I am, writing, pausing, and writing again.
11 thoughts on “Pause”
I have to admit, I’m not a fan of Hemingway either, but I do love your ability to connected small moments of stories that make up the fabric of your life. The interconnectedness and weaving that you can do with disparate parts to bring a sense of place and people is magical. I’m so glad that the pause is what will propel you forward.
Yesterday I had to pause and reset many many times! Thanks for the reminder.
Ah, Amanda, this is a lovely reminder. I love the gentle touch you gave your son and the way that momentary pause gave him perspective.
When we pause, we have time to reflect and hopefully walk away with a positive thought. This is the process that comes out of your writing today, Amanda. The pause is important. I use the word pause in my poem today as I reflected. Thanks for sharing your vignettes.
I adore the honesty you shared in part three of your post today. We’ve all been there at points. I appreciated that you tried again, by hand, and then looked at life a bit more closely to find things worthy of preserving with your words.
I have a feeling this post will inspire other Slicers in March. May I have your permission to share it during the first few days of the challenge (when I’m hosting)? If so, please email me a YES with the permalink and I’ll take it from there. THANKS!
*sigh* I can relate. I haven’t written much in January for the same reasons. I just couldn’t find a way to write about was really on my mind. And some days there was nothing useful on my mind. So today I watched my life really closely, forcing myself to live my day like a writer who has something to say, and out it came.
PS: Gregor the Overlander….LOVE THIS SERIES!!!
I’m glad you’re back! We’ve all been there. Thanks for sharing the hard parts.
Ps I also love Gregor!!!
I’m glad you wrote through the block and persevered to find a parking spot. This reminds us all to just keep calm. This will all be OK. With my daily experience of notebook writing with my students, we are discovering that all of us have days when the writing doesn’t come. My students are slowly loosening the reigns on their notebooks and letting go. I think watching me have those days helps.
Hey. Glad to read about someone else who’s going through a little writing struggle. I like how the little ships of time and the idea of experimenting allowed this to emerge. I keep telling myself to listen to the funny David Sedaris advice: abandon hope. Not hope with the capital H, but that nagging writer’s hope of coming up with a perfect line every time. It’s sort of like your more kid-friendly advice to your son. Maybe this is a good time to experiment. I’ll take that advice today. Thanks.
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Fingers crossed I get another slice done this week! I’ve been reading yours but haven’t commented. The story about McGee made me cry a little. In fact, I’ll go over there & comment right now…