Fill Your Paper…
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
When I sit to write my blog, I am like the slot machine that comes up with one lemon, one X and one banana peel. It takes a few pulls to get gold. As I sat late this Sunday evening to write the elusive *something* I wanted to write, I saw the clipped-out graphic with those words from the aptly named Wordsworth. So, to follow my own instructions, here is what is breathing in my heart.
I want to write beautiful, wrenching things that leave clawmarks as I drag them into light.
I want to describe the color of my daughter Simone’s eyes, how they are the greenest, sea-green, peridot jewels, and how sweet or sad they sometimes look. When I see her I remember her a toddler holding my leg with one hand and her bottle with the other, laying her head against me until she was too tired to stand, and then fitting into the crook of my arm while we napped.
I want to describe the things that scare me, or used to scare me, that don’t scare me as much as exhaust me, bore me, weigh on me anymore. How they ceased to frighten and turned to lead. How they still drag on me, without fear, but yet with consequences.
When I sit at my desk the hourglass trickles away the grains of time and will I ever get to say it all, spill the words that clog my throat? Will I die before they make it to the page? Will the daily drag, like sodden clothes weighing me down in a flood, keep me from that end?
I want to have left it better than when I came in. Better stories, cleaner air and water, rebuilt lives, warmed hearths. I want there to be lions and elephants and whales for my great-grandchildren and for theirs, too.
I have words in my head, in my chest, still forming, bumping around like polliwogs without legs and arms, without what they need to stand alone. I’m busy, too busy, and time slips past, and the year is almost over, and I have to do these things, and then the words have dried up, used up all the air and died. I was gonna write about that, but I missed it. It’s over. It was a one-time thing, but — I get anxious, sometimes, and the words are there but the hands won’t perform. Or the words want to come but the anxious makes the body tired, so the words stay in.
I want to write about the stories of my ancestors who struggled, who suffered, who caused suffering — but I need to see it, process it first. So the filing and sorting is going on in my head and I’ll get it right, eventually, if there’s time. If I can just get it down.
I want to think that I’m winning at this, that I’m succeeding in a pool where everyone is splashing at the same time, and it’s hard to see who’s got the ball. Is it my turn? Can I catch it? Can I throw it? Can I even see it coming? Is the water too deep? Am I just going to slip in and get wet, and then get out and dry off and call it a day?
I want to write about bigger, deeper, more — and I’m afraid the instrument is too blunt. I’ll smash it instead of shape it. It won’t work, and no one will want to read it anyway. I want to do it just for me, except I don’t, really, because it’s the tree in the forest without an audience, making noise for whom?
I want a way to harness all this energy, to light up my own world, and maybe yours, if I could just —
If I could only — you know. Write.
Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of six books: three novels, one poetry collection, and two women's history. She was the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, in 2014-17. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. She has a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University, and MA in Early 20th C. British Literature from Cal State Hayward. Julia's articles have appeared on Salon, Thrillist, Paste, Scary Mommy, Narratively, Yahoo News, Your Tango, and Sweatpants & Coffee. Her articles have also run in Redbook, Woman's Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, Town & Country, the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Magazine, Quill, and MadeLocal. She was the founding editor of weekly Alameda Sun and literary zine Red Hills Review. Her poetry has been in The East Bay Literary review, Postcard Poems, Americus Review, Cicada, Tiferet Review, and many others. Julia has been recognized several times by the San Francisco, East Bay and Peninsula Press Clubs as well as the California Newspaper Association for her blogging since 2003.