Confession

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Confession: I do not enjoy standing at the front of a room, listening to myself talk.

I do, however, enjoy standing at the front of a room, listening to others talk about a subject I’ve opened up for them: this is the method I’ve been using in my class, asking the students to break into smaller groups and discuss a subject, then return to the larger group to share their thoughts, and I love how ideas begin to flow, to cross-pollinate, to deepen, and I am simply a facilitator, responding to the discussion, but not imposing my will upon it. I am not there to be the expert. I am not an expert. This is not to downplay my experiences, simply to state the facts: I have no advanced degrees, no areas of speciality. I am a human being, alive to the world around me, I am a parent, attuned to my children’s needs as best I can be, I am a reader who loves language and the structuring of ideas in many forms, and I am a writer who will never be convinced that accomplishment matters—my own accomplishment, that is. What is accomplishment? It sounds so final. I am interested in process.

I am always willing to examine a problem from a different angle. I am willing to change my mind, based on new evidence, or a new argument.

I want to play and be playful, no matter how old I get.

And so my goals are changing before my eyes. They are changing as the year progresses, this year in which my focus has been WRITE. When I woke up this morning, early and exhausted, I thought that this past year has not been about WRITING at all, but about the after-effects of having written. I wrote, I published, and I am living the part that comes next. And I do not love it. I do not even seem to like it, most of the time. Even while I pour myself into it, even while I work to make the most of what has been offered to me, I only find myself growing wearier and wearier, drained, exhausted, perhaps even depressed. Lost. Uncertain. Bereft of a clear goal to call me onward; a steady dull and dulling march that I continue because I don’t know how to stop.

Here I am.

What comes next? How do I access my passion once again? How do I reset my routines, alter them, even minutely, to feed the life I want to have? If I can’t name that life, can’t see it, how can I make changes to my routines in order to step toward it?

Here is where my imagination stalls out. What do I want?

I want to write challenging stories: stories that challenge me, conceptually, that push me in a new direction.

I want …

Do I want to train for a race? Do I want to teach more classes? Do I want to change careers? Do I want to study yoga or meditation more deeply? Do I want to spend more time with children? Do I want to coach more soccer? Do I want to go on a writing retreat? Do I want more quiet writing days or weeks? Do I want to host more friends for dinner? Do I want to sponsor and host a refugee family? Do I want to make more music?

Oh, what small voice is calling me?

Why can’t I hear you, small voice?

xo, Carrie

A new day in Canada
Discernment

5 Comments

  1. Where do you teach?

    Reply
    • Hi Kerry, I teach creative writing at the University of Waterloo.

      Reply
  2. Oh, I love this.

    Reply
  3. Carrie, you have accomplished so much. You’re a magnificent writer and yet you manage to be so present in other facets of life – mothering, coaching, teaching. It’s a feat of constant juggling, and of course, sometimes you are exhausted and overwhelmed. Until recently, most women writers were not married or did not have children. Now, we expect to have everything, and it’s rewarding but very hard. Please don’t forget the enormous pleasure your writing gives to the world, and that you as a mother, wife and friend give to those close to you. You give a great deal. I hope one day satisfaction at the scope of your achievements, personal and professional, will give pride and pleasure back to you.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Beth. I hope I haven’t made it sound as though I receive no pleasure or pride from my activities; rather, I think I’ve been surprised by what does and does not give me pleasure. I love making connections with people; but I dread and distrust praise. I don’t know why that is, but I recognize it. My goals and focus may shift because of this, but I don’t think it’s a negative shift; I want to recognize what feeds me, and therefore what will bring me energy in the months and years ahead–what will continue to keep me engaged in the world.

      Reply

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