Sunday afternoon, just after 2:00, and the baby is asleep though probably for not much longer. I read for a while in the rocking chair by the window, listening to the sounds of cars passing by on a day that feels just enough like spring, and then put the book down and look around my house.
It is small, cozy, full of adorable baby things: a little jacket on a hook by the front door; a pop-up nylon ball pit with a toddler-sized basketball hoop hanging from it; toys, almost all in primary colors, stacked haphazardly upon one another; stuffed animals, crowding together in a gray-and-white basket, waiting to be chosen.
I take a breath: this is my home, and it is the home I have made for someone else, the smallest and most precious of people.
Lately, I have been thinking about dreams.
All my life, I have wanted to be a writer, in that way that means I am paid for it, recognized for it, not just committed to it. The latter point, I think I’ve got that down: I write for creative purposes almost every day, and at times I’ve produced stories and even novels, which I am bad about revisiting and editing. I’ve been published here and there, essays and fiction, though such appearances in print are rare.
I’m convinced that I will write for the rest of my life; it’s the way that I make sense of the world, and it’s the way that I ground myself when that same world threatens to wrap me up or perhaps blow me away. Yet I’ve been re-considering that idea of “being” a writer. Even though I’ve been able, four or five times, to sit down in the month of November and produce a story of more than 50,000 words, I’m not certain I have the – what? – drive/determination/focus/chutzpah needed to take one of those and make it into something other people would actually read. I worry sometimes I am too much a dreamer first to make such a thing happen.
In Stephen King’s wonderful book “On Writing,” he talks about how being a reader is part of being a writer. He encourages people to carry a book with them everywhere, in order to take up reading when time might otherwise stand still: in a line, waiting for a movie or game to start. That instruction has stuck with me for years, and I still think of it when I’m in the midst of a choice on a random Sunday afternoon: to read, or to write? Today, apparently, given the baby’s stretch of slumber and my house already somewhat cleaned, I am doing both.
I wonder what it would be, to release the hopes of publication, to let go of the idea of turning my observations about life into words that connected people to one another. What would it be like, to write with my full heart, and my hopes nowhere attached to the words that came? Initially, I think of that with fear; this is a thing I have always wanted, that I have worked towards as I have been able to, though sometimes in fits and starts.
Yet maybe there is expansiveness in such a release. Maybe there could even be a type of home, waiting to be built, alongside the toys of primary colors, alongside the soft stuffed animals, alongside the other dreams that have come so beautifully true.