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A little gift of Doe Bay ramble

October 21, 2014

Since Write Doe Bay things have been happening, whispers of a shifting. At first I didn’t feel it. I was too “in it”, as can be expected when traveling for over 12 hours with a 6 month old and juggling said 6 month old during a writing workshop. I was busy just living, trying to pull everything I could out of the experience, the space, and myself.

For two weeks before we left I struggled. The every day-ness of life at home got to me and I found myself driving around in circles because it was the only time I could relax, knowing that Eli was strapped in and sleeping or occupied. I ate a lot of cookies on those drives, dropping the wrappers onto the floor in front of the passenger seat. I thought maybe I had postpartum depression, but as Doe Bay got closer I started feeling better. My therapist pointed it out before I noticed it. I wasn’t having clinical depression, just boredom and a loss of my sense of self. (That’s a whole other blog post, I think.)

When we got to LAX and finally my car, I looked to my right and saw those cookie wrappers. I saw sadness and loss. It was then that I knew, something had happened at Doe Bay. I no longer connected with that sadness. If that was all, it was enough.

But it wasn’t all.

Throughout this past week I’ve barely written. Not in a journal, not a to do list, nothing. I’ve questioned my choices and the work I’ve done. At times I’ve wondered if my focus and drive have left me. It was a simple suggestion that brought them back, a text message. “Have you read ‘I Loved You More’?”

Tom Spanbauer of Dangerous Writers fame. He introduced Chuck Palahniuk to Amy Hempel’s work, Chuck Palahniuk introduced it to me. My copy of her Collected Stories is shredded and so full of paper scraps and scribbled notes that it’s a bit of a time capsule. It’s also dusty. When my focus shifted from fiction to memoir, I made it my mission to read the entire canon of this new to me genre, forsaking all others. I got caught up in stories and perceived truths. Fiction started to feel like a lie. I couldn’t connect to the universal truths anymore, not even through Amy Hempel. Now, this week, I’ve come back home. The reintroduction of Tom Spanbauer reminded me why I love reading and writing, what made me love words and structure. I like twisted truths. I like short sentences that make me re-read them. Looking at it now, the memoirs I love have that sense of play, whether it’s with tense or structure or manipulating the reader into feeling certain things. It’s all the same,  but I couldn’t see it before now. It had to be either or, but beautiful writing is beautiful writing. Truth veiled as fiction or fiction veiled as truth, makes no difference. Most memoirs today have a disclaimer so the authors don’t get James Freyed. And don’t even get me started on memories fallibility.

Wait- where was I? What was I talking about? Right. The gift from Write: Doe Bay. To condense it down I guess it gave me back a sense of wonder when it comes to stories and writing. It reminded me why I love what I love. ♥

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