I’m Still Writing, Even If It Looks Like I’m Not Doing Anything At All: Searching for My Tribe of Fellow Ponderers

This follows the post I wrote here about the passing of time and my lousy time management skills. I wondered if I would take full advantage of my spare time once I had my solitude back – once elementary school resumed in-person, in the building.

I was looking forward to my son returning to school. I wanted more writing time. I wanted some peace and quiet back.

I do have more time now, although I can’t say it’s been entirely peaceful. I’ve been very anxious about my unvaccinated 11-year-old returning to school. I’ve been very anxious about how well he would adjust to the rigor and schedule of all-day in-person school. I’ve been anxious in general about a lot of things. Sometimes that anxiety knocks me on my ass, and I cry a lot. Or I lie on the couch all day binge watching television. Those are some unproductive days.

Other than those hours stolen by anxiety, am I using my time wisely? Am I writing more?

Short answer: I think so.

Long answer: I’m definitely thinking more about writing. That is to say, I now have enough mental space for writing now that virtual schooling is off the table. Literally, it’s off my dining room table. The table is clean and is covered with a pretty tablecloth instead of books and worksheets.

I’m filling the pages of my notebook. I’m spilling a lot of thoughts and ideas into ink. I’m not publishing quite as many essays and blog posts as I would like though. Partly, it’s that I’ve been writing a few essays that require a little research, and that takes a good bit of time for me.

Mostly though, it’s because I’m a slow writer. A lot of my “writing” is staring into the trees surrounding my back porch. I may not be putting words on the page, but my brain is actively pondering and creating.

Sometimes, I think I’d like to train myself to write faster. Who are these people who regularly write thousands of words each day? How do they do that?

But I think we should let our minds be free to work in the ways they are meant to work. And our minds are all different. Having an autistic son has taught me not to squash myself into a mold based on comparisons with other writers. While one writer may have thousands of words a day, my brain needs to stare up into trees or watch sunlight dance on the surface of a lake. I don’t know how long I might spend staring. All I can say is that I’m busier than I look.

When I was in 8th grade, and I was the new kid in school again, I was trying to make friends. I was eating lunch with this group of about half a dozen kids including Joe P.

Joe P. was short and had blond hair, and in my memory he is always wearing parachute pants. (Although surely he didn’t wear them every day?)

One day at lunch, Joe started waving his hand in front of my face. He said that I was just staring, like I was spazzed out. And he thought it was so weird. He asked how did I do that? And could I spaz out again?

I hadn’t been aware that I was staring. Even if I was staring at nothing, I didn’t see why it was such a big deal. Had Joe never seen someone lost in thought before? But every few days after that, he would ask me to do it again. “Can you spaz out again?” Like it was a circus trick. I said I didn’t know what he was talking about. Once or twice, he’d exclaim that he saw me spazzing out again. I gradually stopped eating lunch at that table.

I haven’t thought about Joe P. in years. Probably since people stopped wearing parachute pants. I’d like to think that if my thoughts were interrupted by a rude Joe today, I’d have a snappy comeback. Or maybe I’d still just change tables and find my own tribe. That’s one reason I love writing – I can send my words out into the world with the hope that they’ll reach my tribe, the people who get me.

To all of you who are content to dwell inside your thoughts for a while…

To all of you who stare off into the trees, tuning out the inane chatter…

To all of you who are outwardly quiet while your mind is a busy hive…

To you, my fellow ponderers: Be who you are. Be yourself. Pay no mind to the Joe P.’s of the world.

I’ll be sending out my next newsletter this month. I’m changing the format up a bit to try something fun! I’m going to try a serialized story. Every newsletter will have the next installment. I’m a devoted plotter, (which means I plan every detail of a story before I start writing it) so writing & publishing a small piece at a time will be new for me. Sign up here to receive it in your inbox!

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