Friday, January 18, 2013

Being "Writerly" Even Without a Regular Writing Routine

Happy Poetry Friday! To celebrate my inaugural post in this, my new Friday slot, I've included a poem at the end of today's blog post. You'll find a link to today's Poetry Friday round-up there, too.

First, though, I need to talk about our next TeachingAuthors topic. Jill, Jeanne Marie, and April started the year by discussing ways to "get back into the writing groove" after being away from it for awhile. As a follow-up, today I was supposed to talk about the pros and cons of having a writing routine.  By "Writing Routine," I mean a specific, preplanned time set aside for writing and/or writing-related tasks, such as research.

I figured this topic would be a no-brainer for me. I thrive on having a regular routine. Last fall, I blogged about my "typical" writing day: how I try to get up around 6-6:30 in the morning and start working as soon after breakfast as possible, without checking email or Facebook. And how, since I have a hard time resisting email, I set a timer and don't allow myself to look at email until I've put in 2-4 hours of work. [By the way, my favorite timer is online, at the Mindfulness Bell site.  You can use the site to set a chime that sounds periodically, for example, every 15 minutes (perhaps to remind yourself to blink while staring at the screen), or you can set the chime for a specific time by using the "reminder" option at the bottom of the page.]

As luck would have it, though, I'm currently unable to follow my normal writing routine. Instead, I'm helping my husband care for his 87-year-old father, who is staying with us while he recovers from pneumonia. I'm still setting timers, but now they're to remind me to give Dad one of his meds, or to wake him from a nap so he can get ready for his therapy appointment. I love my father-in-law dearly, and I'm happy to be able to help him this way. Now that he's starting to feel better, I'm hoping to get back into some sort of writing routine again soon. Meanwhile, I've been stealing moments to catch up on some reading, and to participate in the Annual Blog Comment Challenge. The challenge is a great way to discover new blogs, and it's not too late to sign up, if you're interested

I'm also beginning to realize that poems are something I can write in small snatches of time. Actually, I was inspired by something Dad said the other day to scribble a few lines. Thanks to April's brave example of sharing her poems-in-progress, I'm sharing the following poem with all of you even though it's far from polished. I hope you'll be as kind to me in your comments as you've been to April. :-)

Before sharing my poem, I want to remind you to read Esther's Student Success Story interview with Brenda Ferber. You're sure to be inspired by Brenda's persistence, despite 70 rejections!, to finally sell her wonderful picture book, The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever (Dial). And be sure to enter for a chance to win your own autographed copy.

Okay, I won't put it off any longer. Here's my poem. As I mentioned, it was inspired by my father-in-law, who has been a widower for a little over a year. I had noticed he often stared off into space, and I feared he was beginning to lose his faculties. Then, out of the blue, he explained that he sometimes missed out on parts of the conversation because he was actually deep in reverie.

          Daydream Rememberings

          I miss what you say
          because I'm daydreaming,
          remembering happy times
          with Ramona.
          Our long bike rides,
          camping trips all over the country,
          ballroom dancing in matching outfits.

          Fifty-seven years of memories.
          I miss my wife.
poem ©2013 Carmela Martino. All rights reserved

For more poems, check out the Poetry Friday Roundup at Violet Nesdoly/poems.

Got to go now. My chime just went off. Time to get Dad up from his nap. Maybe Mary Ann will talk about the pros/cons of writing routines when she posts on Monday. :-) Meanwhile, you can find some tips on developing your own routine in this post at poetryNprogress.

Happy Writing!


Linda B said...

I'm glad you shared your poem instead of the pro's & con's, Carmela. It's lovely, & I can certainly connect to it. Although it's change, how wonderful for you & your husband to have this time with his father, making the latest memories.

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks, Linda. Yes, I've been thinking, too, how this time with my father-in-law is creating more memories for all of us.

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Oh, thanks for so bravely sharing your poem, Marti.
Your father-in-law proves the Truth of Katherine Paterson's words in her essay collected in THE GATES OF EXCELLENCE.
I'm tweaking them a tad, but essentially she shared that the very people who take us away from our writing are the very people who give us our storie.

Susan Ekins said...

Hi Carmela. Wow, what a lot of great resources packed into one blog post. I saved the posts about getting in a writing routine to read later so I can do some writing. :) And I bookmarked the site that rings a bell. Thank you much.
Your poem touched my heart.

Bridget Magee said...

Lovely poem, Carmela! You brought tears to my eyes...literally. My mom misses my dad so much, too. Thank you for sharing your poem. Happy Friday! =)

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks, Esther, I forgot about Katherine Paterson's words.
Hi Sue. ~wave~ I'm glad to know my poem touched your heart.
Welcome, Bridget. I got teary-eyed, too, when my father-in-law said he was daydreaming about his happy memories.
BTW: I wrote the post yesterday and scheduled it to post this morning. I didn't realize till after it was up that today is Ramona's birthday. How appropriate.

Fats Suela from Gathering Books said...

Such a heartfelt poem, Carmela. Tugged at my heart. Those last lines took my breath away. Thank you for sharing!! =)

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear Carmela,

I love the details and the poignancy of your poem. I wonder if the title could be something along the lines of ON MY WIFE'S BIRTHDAY...and if so, then you wouldn't need the last line, since "Fifty-seven years of memories" packs such a punch.

And thanks for the Mindfulness Bell!!

Violet N. said...

Aww that is so warm and compassionate. Thanks for sharing it. And do 'take notes' of this time of caregiving... little snippets of conversation, scenes, routines, even smells. Nothing need be wasted.

Violet N.

Carmela Martino said...

I'm thrilled that my poem touched you, Fats Suela.
April, thanks for the GREAT revision suggestion. Wish I'd realized earlier the significance of today's date. :-)
And, Violet, you're so right about nothing being wasted.

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

Such a touching poem, Carmela! You almost don't even need the last two lines, as the rest of it says so much. Thanks for sharing.

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for the feedback, Matt. I appreciate it.

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

Beautiful poem. I miss my wife says a thousand memories.
Also love the mindfulness bell. I assume you have to stay online to use it? I will find out.
Susan at pen and Ink.

Renee LaTulippe said...

Lovely, poignant poem, Carmela, and thank you for sharing the inspiration for it. We lost our dad seven years ago, and I often think of my mom (still quite young) just like this, and hope she doesn't get too lost in reverie. Your words conjured many bittersweet images for me. I agree about deleting the last line to make the poem even stronger.

And thanks for the Mindfulness Bell - what a great invention. :)

Margaret Simon said...

I always find your posts inspiring. Life gets in the way of so many goals, but you are embracing this time with a special person.

Anonymous said...

Lovely poem. I wonder if you shared it with your FIL and what he thought?

My 11 yr old son is often lost in thought. Due to autism, he is nonverbal, but I would love to know whether he is remembering past happinesses or anticipating future ones!

ding! There is my bell. Thank you!
- Cathy

Ruth said...

That's a beautiful poem. How blessed he is to have those memories. Thank you for sharing this.

Carmela Martino said...

How wonderful to get up today to all your lovely comments. Thanks for the feedback, Sue at Pen and Ink. Renee, thanks for sharing about your mom and dad. Margaret, I'm happy to know you find our posts inspiring. Cathy, maybe one day your son will surprise you by sharing one of his thoughts--I know I was suprised when my FIL shared his. Although he is quite social and verbal, he doesn't typically share much about his feelings, other than to say he misses his wife. And Ruth, thanks for the comment. I appreciate everyone taking the time to share your reactions.

Tabatha said...

Thank you for sharing this with us! I enjoyed your whole post. At Christmas this year, I gave my parents some memory journals from Barnes and Noble. I can't find those particular ones right now, but here's a list of some others:
Something like that might be nice for your father-in-law to do.

Carmela Martino said...

What a great idea, Tabatha. Thanks so much!

Joyce Ray said...

Hi Carmela, thank you for sharing your poem and a private part of your life. As others have said, these times may prove to be writing material one day. I love that your dad-in-law shared why he sometimes misses out on conversations. It's beautiful to think of him re-living moments with the one he loved. Perhaps your poem might be stronger with the addition of a few specific places they camped, instead of the more general "all over the country." And I want to find that bell!

Mia said...

You are so disciplined to ignore email and Facebook to write for two hours but you are right. It's so distracting!!!

Mia said...

You are so disciplined to ignore email and Facebook to write for two hours but you are right. It's so distracting!!!

Carmela Martino said...

Great idea, Joyce. Thanks for the suggestion. And Mia, I can be disciplined for short periods on some days, but not every day. :-)
Thanks for your comments. said...

What a lovely poem! I admire your discipline, it's certainly better than mine.

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks, Catherine!