Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Attempting New Lives

I am a short-sighted person. I can tell you honestly that I have never had a ten year plan. I'm not sure that I've ever had a one year plan. I have ideas, vague notions, castles in the sky, and when I'm called to make a decision, I generally do it with little forethought or planning.

No. That's not entirely accurate.

I do plan. Sometimes I plan for months. I scour atlases and worn, informative books, sketch detailed drawings or outlines in journals, clip images from magazines and paste them into other journals. And then, when the time comes to do the thing that I've been planning, I put all of the journals and books and atlases and images aside and do something entirely different.

My kitchen floor, for instance. As I peeled back the probably asbestos-ridden sixties tiles and scraped at the sticky adhesive day after day for a month, I imagined painting an Oriental rug in the center of the floor. I sketched it out and dreamed about it each night. However, when the time came to start it, I traced circles with a mixing bowl and painted in a pattern of circles and diamonds instead, not bothering to determine the mathematical center of the floor, by the way, which galled my math teacher neighbor.

For years, I've drawn layouts for my kitchen garden, but in the end, I threw it together, completely disregarding the geometric loveliness of my fantasy gardens. In fact, once again boggling my neighbor, in digging post holes for the entryway, I dug one too deep, causing the posts to be significantly different in height, but I left it that way, declaring it to be an artistic choice.

Now, I am at that stage in my life where I wonder if a ten year plan wouldn't have been a bright idea after all. What was it that I wanted to do? I know beyond a doubt that I didn't want to teach when I was in high school. I was dismayed when I got the Teaching Fellows scholarship. But here I am, and I'm not bad at it. The fact is, I even enjoy many aspects of teaching, the creativity, the kids, the summer vacations. The summer vacations can never be sold short.

Still, I'm sure that there was something else. Did I always want to be a writer? I can't remember. I know that I always wrote. I wrote short stories about monsters and talking dogs in kindergarten and short stories about mothers and children in high school. I penned imaginary newspapers and tons of terrible poems about love and death. But I'm not sure that I ever thought, "I want to be a writer when I grow up." Maybe I just never thought it was possible.

So here I am trying to decide if I was wrong-headed. If I never allowed myself to make the plan because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to follow through on it. And if that's the case, if I felt that I wouldn't be able to follow through because I wasn't writer material or because I'm an inherently lazy person who finds planning easy and follow through...well, work.

Regardless, it's back to revising the novel. I don't have a plan, but I have an idea. Maybe that's the best approach to attempting new lives after all.

1 comment:

  1. 10 year plans are not for everyone-

    your path is a lovely and illuminated one upon which there are no accidents.

    Wonderful and unexpected twists have been the reward for choosing a free-form existence and they suit you.

    I love the part of you that researches and plans and the part that abandons those plans for something sweeter and simpler.

    Your life is art. xoxo


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A Mirror, A Summer, A Street by Autumn Crisp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.