Sunday, September 6, 2009


: marked by numerous ups and downs

The past few days have been an emotional roller coaster. I spent a good chunk of last week working on an essay to submit for a magazine contest. After surprising myself by writing something quite fanciful (not my typical M.O.), I attempted to write a more straightforward, classic essay version. I offered both pieces to a few close friends for feedback and got discouragingly mixed results. While this started me on a loop-de-loop, it was just the beginning.

Concurrent with the writing exercises, my husband and I were looking into buying a new house in East Nashville (well, not "new" new, but new to us). While we are pretty happy in our current place and love our street and our neighbors, we have a three bedroom house with tiny closets and three daughters. You do the math. B & K share a room and our evenings go something like this:

8:00 - Put B & K to bed, including saying prayers, tucking them in, kisses all around
8:02 - K emerges, "I need to go to the baff-room." Parent responds, "OK. Go."
8:05 - B emerges, "Can I have a drink of water?" "A small one. Then go to bed."
8:07 - "K, are you still in the bathroom? Get in your bed!"
8:10 - Giggling, thumping, tussling sounds can be heard through the wall of B & K's room
8:15 - "Girls, stop playing and go to sleep."

Repeat cycle for another quarter to half an hour, depending on whether the night is a good one or a bad one.
So when we saw a 5 bedroom home with (ahem) 4 full baths and a completely renovated kitchen, it seemed too good to pass up. We toured the home a week ago today and the entire family was pretty wowed. (Cue the roller-coaster on a steep ascent - we were gaining altitude.) After seeing the home with our agent on Thursday, we made an offer Friday night. (And here we pause briefly at the peak to take in the view.)

Alas, we were too late. Another offer came through before ours. One that wasn't contingent upon the sale of the buyer's home. (Sharp decline. Stomach ends up in throat as we plummet.) We couldn't match that, so the lovely home with huge closets, hardwoods throughout and space for three teenage daughters will go to someone else. (The coaster levels off, we regain our breath.)

Now, we don't need this house. I'm not sure our closets can accommodate the wardrobe needs of a straight laced eldest, a hippy chick middle and an anything goes youngest daughter, but we're doing OK for now. Even as I write, I am sitting at my sweet little desk, with the window open in front of me. I love this spot. But... we had all started to imagine ourselves elsewhere. Each girl had chosen a bedroom. I was mentally rearranging furniture. (We pull into the loading dock, thankful to get off the coaster. Feeling a bit weak-kneed.)

And, perhaps hardest, I had wondered whether instead of writing, I was meant to focus my energies on selling this home and preparing us for a new one. The writing, after all, was tanking before my eyes. If I couldn't even write a simple essay that would please my own friends, what did I think I was doing with all of this free time? Why bother? (I consider climbing back aboard the coaster, if only to delay the inevitable return to real life.)

But I bother because I want to write. I want to write. And I want to do it well. And I'm old enough and wise enough to know what art does not come easy. It takes draft after draft, crumpled page after crumpled page, to achieve that initial vision. So in spite of a clenched stomach, I'm going to end this post and give that essay one more shot. Then, no matter how I feel about it, I'm going to submit something to the contest. Because I owe myself that much.


RBM said...

I am sorry to hear about the frustrating experience with the house. That sounds very hard. And how overwhelming to have it happen at the same time as the varied advice about your essay. We all have such different experiences that we often react differently to the same essay and offer different opinions. And while yes, you need constructive criticism to produce a good product, don't forget at the end of the day that YOU need to be pleased with the essay no what your various friends say. You do owe it to yourself to finish and submit!

Variations On A Theme said...

Oh, so sorry about the house! I was excited for you! And if you want any more feedback, email me your essay.

wideopenworld said...

I know how you feel but in the end you have to write if you have the desire to do so. Yesterday i received my umpteenth rejection letter for my book and almost cried. (I blame it on pregnancy) but writing isn't easy. You won't always please everyone in your writing because we all like different thngs, but contests are judged by writing quality usually and not based on the judges preference for first person vs. third person. Just remember, many of the Greats didn't get there until they were quite a bit older! (I know, I know. I say it like it helps when it doesn't.....!)

Brentwood said...

Hey Shannon. You can do it!!!!! You have the talent. You have lots to say. You are such a gifted writer! Just do it! =D

Sorry about the roller coaster ride. I hope your stomachs & hearts are settling from it all.

Miss seeing you in class.


Suburban Turmoil said...

Great job- this was a wonderful post.

The house probably had termites and toxic mold. ;)

And I read recently a quote that said essentially that even great writers write first drafts that need a LOT of work. No one sits down and writes something perfect right off the bat.

That made me feel a lot better!

mikkee said...

Lovely post. I am on a roller coaster to right now for different reasons, but your writing compels me and I am empathize because of your descriptions that are both specific and universal.