Tuesday, October 22, 2013
The Little Flower and Me
Every so often I ask myself how I ever got into this writing game.
(Note that I say "writing game." I'd love to call it a business but I htink you have to turn a profit to call something that. That part is still in my future.)
The answer is, not unlike being a duchess or an undertaker, I was born into it. Or born in it. Born that way, maybe that's the term I'm looking for.
There you are, eight years old, you've got this "hold the pencil and form the letters" thing nailed, and you just start. You write. You write stories and plays and rhymes. You fill a blue exam book you found int he basement and you say "Now I have written a book." It goes on from there. Before you know it you're writing every day. And before you know it, you find it you don't write every day, you start to feel weird.
Not the other way around, mind you. Not "people who don't write are normal." You think you're normal. You can't understand why everyone else isn't doing it.
Then you grow up and you realzie that all those years you had it backwards. Those people who didn't write every day? THEY WERE THE NORMAL ONES. They were off playing sports and going to parties and graduating from law school. They had lives, careers, real estate. That, you realize finally, is what's considered normal American life.
But you can't stop. You can't stop writing. It's still true: writing is the only thing that makes you feel like yourself. Well, that and one or two other things, but we won't go into them now.
Now about the Little Flower.
I hate to admit it but she was never one of my favorite saints. Until about a week ago.
I knew, of course, that St Therese of Lisieux wrote her "Story of a Soul" because her superior in her Carmelite convent- who I believe was her biological sister at the time- told her she had to. Being the Little Flower she meekly took up her pen and got to work.
And guess what? She found it was hard work, too. She hated to be interrupted because it took her so long to get into the writing zone that the slightest interruption threw her mojo off.
Hello, all you writers out there! Can you relate?
The story I read was this: she was sitting outdoors during the haying season, working on the diary. By then she was very ill and had to rest whenever possible. But she kept writing. She was taking the sun and working on her book, when all of a sudden a bunch of flowers landed right on her lap.
She gritted her teeth. The flowers, she knew, were a little gift from one of the other nuns, who thought she'd brighten Therese's day.
Therese forced a smile, thanked the sister, said something like how lovely, etc.
But inside she was seething. Don't these people realize how hard this is, she thought. Don't they know the last thing I need when I'm writing this blasted book is distraction? Why don't they get it? Why can't they leave me alone when I'm working? Now how am I going to get started again?
I cannot relate to the sugary sweet Little Flower you read about in all the books.
But I can definitely relate to a pissed-off writer.
Therese? You're my girl, from now on.