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Why I don’t write

By Elizabeth Cranford Garcia

Because the high-pitched whine of your offspring is genetically engineered to shove any thought right off your mind shelf, so trying to ponder anything with 2 kids at home is a joke

Because at the end of the day, when it’s quiet, my brain is a raisin, sucked dry from giving, from listening to “FEE FI FO FUM” 900 times, from constant negotiations with a strong-willed 2-year-old who doesn’t like public potties, from being asked questions on abstract concepts that I can’t possibly explain to a 5 year old, and I just want to binge watch Netflix

Because once they’re in bed, sitting and thinking in the quiet will put me to sleep–and I don’t want to spend my time sleeping!

Because it’s easier to make to-do lists, to organize closets, to crochet, to find recipes for things my husband might eat on Pinterest

Because [retch, gag] incubating a human keeps you at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid

Because all my new material is domestic, feels cliche and less legitimate 

Because I’m white   

Because my material is probably too confessional

Because #firstworldproblems

Because I’m from the South, so I’m probably (fill in the blank).

Because I’m a lemming, and I don’t have a dissenting voice against my religion

Because I should be editing the gajillion hours of videos I have of my kids into something for posterity

Because, I know, Dad! I should be doing family history

Because I should be an activist, and if I’m not actively calling my representatives to express my outrage, then I’m doing “nothing,” ergo allowing evil to prosper

Because every poem I read (published and perfect) is brilliant, evokes roils of envy and angst, compared to the cotton, milk, saltless drivel I manage to cough up with any first draft

Because I’ve gotten so many rejections from Southern Poetry Review (to name one) that they probably know my email by heart and the editor’s eyes probably instinctively roll up in his head

Because my grad school professor asserted that you can’t be a good writer if you’re a virgin. And being a good, single 27-year-old Mormon girl at the time, I was screwed. (Ha!)

Because (what my professor really meant was): I haven’t suffered enough–so what do I really have to contribute?

Because even at 40, I haven’t lost children, or experienced sexual trauma, or been discriminated against, or been homeless, or divorced, or betrayed–so why would anyone want to hear what I have to say anyway?

 

If I could think one
thing, follow it     on highway
19    those trees   that

pond    white arms refract
over the water      women
rinse crumbs from their hands

 

Why I do

Because sometimes, I can.

Because sometimes, I need it.

Because even if what I have to say isn’t unique, it (I hope) builds a consensus. It helps people feel less alone.

 

What are the voices in your head that keep you from doing what you love? How do you conquer them?

About Elizabeth Cranford Garcia

Elizabeth Cranford Garcia is the current Poetry Editor for Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought, previous Poetry Editor for Segullah, and a contributor to Fire in the Pasture: 21st Century Mormon Poets. Her work has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, and her first chapbook, Stunt Double, was published in 2015 through Finishing Line Press. Her three small children compete with her writing for attention, and usually win.

6 thoughts on “Why I don’t write”

  1. I know it's cliche, there is a time and season for everything, but it helps to remember that when you want to beat your head against the wall and wish things were different. Just don't let the feeling that "this is permanent" take away your hope that no, this is not a permanent condition or stage of life, and give up. Keep moving forward in spite of the seemingly endless days of caring for demanding little people. They will continually grow up and eventually become your best, most favorite adult friends in the whole world. They will open new worlds to you! Be the best mommy you can be and the rest will, I promise, fall into place at the right time and in the right season. Blessings to you and keep up the good work.

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  2. I am a bit further down the road than you. Strong- willed two year olds became willful teenagers, two of whom merged finances & gave me Oprah Winfrey's book on parenting for Christmas one year! I pasted a smile on my face, & said a polite thank you, then made sure the book was in the very middle of the trash bag that went out to the garbage. That one smarted, but I did my best to demo how to politely receive a bad gift. Now the teenagers are adults, & those 2 have families of their own. When little bundles of squalling joy upend the household, suddenly Mom has knowledge that is valuable, & gets out of "idiot squared land" where I had been exiled during those teen years. If I wrote a book, they would read it, & I wouldn't get to visit.

    Family History has a time & a season. Before babies & after babies is how it worked for me. Our teenagers were eager to do baptisms for their own ancestors, but keeping up with the rest of the ordinances gets dicey. It took all of 2 hours at 2 different temples last summer for our newly 12 year old granddaughter to be baptized for 27 of her ancestors. I am still not caught up on those, but that is what the temple file is for – sharing with those who do not have names & who will help with yours.

    I have found outrage to be over- rated. I would rather see a mother doing her best to raise children with good values, than marching to protest someone without them. Protesting really changes very little & makes a physical mess for someone else to clean up, while raising good people can change a lot. You are increasing the force for good in the world.

    If you are doing the best you can, then grace covers the rest. That got me thru many a hard day, & it still does.

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  3. Thank goodness you do write in spite of your internal voices. My heart hurt to read the types of beliefs that press on many of us, I'm sure. I've seen so many women retreat from owning their voice and gifts for so many of the reasons listed above.

    For me, the only way to face the voices in my head is to realize that God speaks to me differently. Meditation principles have helped a lot — learning to be the person observing the thoughts rather than the person being lived by them.

    When "not enough" is simply an acknowledgement of our need for God, then it is a truth. But most of the time, I think it's a counterfeit that the adversary loves to use. For me, accepting my mortal weakness, trusting God and His timing (I can't live out all of my dreams and passions at once), and then leaning hard into whatever right thing(s) is in my present is how I stay centered. I listened to my inner voices for way too many years. I hope to live the second half of my life continuing to live more deliberately, with God's help and grace.

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  4. So true! I remember those exhausting days of toddlers…

    I think there's a place for all kinds of writers, even those that haven't suffered or had traumatic experiences. So much of our media is over dramatic, sometimes we need to remember that most people's lives are filled with meaningful but mundane things.

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