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Submitted by Virginia Watts on Sat, 11/09/2019 - 15:16

Living in the moment is not my skill. I tend to be looking forward to, or remembering, events of little consequence. The only time that isn't absolutely true is when I'm writing. Even though writing takes up a lot of wading through banks of memory, research, or speculation, the thing itself happens in the moment. You have to focus, pretty much, on the words you string together. At least that is how it works for me. Readability and accessibility is what matters. I want the words on the page to flow in such a way that people can be carried along on my story journey without fuss or bother.

Although I'm interested in how some writers can use chaos, and break all the rules to create ideas that run along unused paths, or create new ones, in their readers' minds. But I don't have that skill, nor do I seek to gain it. I am working against the chaos of my own surroundings; outwardly there is personal clutter accumulated over decades of living in the same spaces; and without question my interior thought bank needs categorizing and some streamlined filing to cope with today's complicated societal and political hysteria. It's always a balancing act, and my ability to choose how to shift weighty issues is frequently challenged.

I unearthed a copy of the project I had done in completion of an MFA in creative writing as I was sorting through the outward clutter, and stopped to read some of the work it contained. I was surprised at how I felt as if I were reading someone else's thoughts, someone else's story lines. But then, of course, that's true. I am not the me I was then.

I've never been anything but an erratic keeper of a journal. But the writing I had done in 2002, almost 18 years ago, proved to be quite as good as a journal to remind me of that part of my journey. I found that I quite liked that person, and the stories she told. It was like discovering an old photo, taken against your will when you weren't feeling at the top of your game, and finding it quite fine.

stack of books




I want to bring more of that acceptance into the present. And of course that's not going to be easy. Whatever forces, outward or inward, have tipped one off course before, are bound to be encountered again and again. But many of the critical voices aren't there anymore. At this stage of my life, most of them are physically gone from this earth. But they can echo in memory in ways that still impact the present.

In that moment between the past me and the present me, there was just the two of us. Nobody else. And that gave me a clarity about who I am now that I thought impossible. Maybe I can carry that fresh vision as my own personal ballast, my own personal gyroscope, on a steadier, present, course.