A Subtle Grace

A Subtle Grace November 12, 2014

My friend Callie wrote a marvelous essay on writing (or not writing), reading, and life getting in the way. It made me want to write!

My study is a nook on our second floor. My desk faces a window that boasts a view of baby oak trees that were planted about ten years ago. Brick townhomes just like ours line the street. I love to look out the window when I’m sitting here. I love our street. It’s the only one like it in our neighborhood, and when I’m up here, I pretend we are in the city, maybe Chicago, just like Jeanne Murray Walker was in the beginning of “A Quiet Grace.” In it, she’s beginning her dissertation when her infant daughter wakes in the morning.

I study that essay like I do a Bible story: See? Esther did a scary thing. See? Mary was totally confused. They knew fear. They knew confusion. Look at these ladies and see what they do. I follow Jeanne through her essay because I know the pull of words and the pull of motherhood and I want to see what another woman does in this situation.

I set my writing space up with that scene in mind. Jeanne felt that desperation and wrote about it. She left her yellow legal pads and picked up her baby, probably feeling both the letdown of having to leave a story and at the same time the joy in the chubby baby legs wrapped around her waist. Jeanne changed the diapers. She peeled the potatoes. And she wrote and wrote and wrote. “So will I,” I told myself as I placed my journals and writing textbooks between cups of pens and pencils on my desk.

Today, I walk into this space and dump my school bag on the floor. To my left are three bookshelves filled with creased copies of All the Pretty Horses, Still, The Common Reader, and essays by E.B. White. I shake my head at them. I can’t write anymore. I want to lay myself on the floor like Harper, but I sit at my desk and look out the window. These are not real townhomes. The brick is just on the front and all these shutters are fake. This is not a city. This is all just make-believe.

Read the rest here.

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