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27 May

Writing in the dark

Mrs. McFeely Friday/The Weekly Squeeze (and visiting blog friends) will resume after WonderBaby’s Royal Tour. HBM is currently blog-challenged, and struggling to overcome…


I’ve been having trouble blogging.

In part because I’ve been off the electronic grid for four days: there’s no wireless connectivity in the small desert town where my mother just bought a home and where she plans to retire. (Yes, Canada has desert. Semi-arid desert, with cactus and tumbleweed and rattlesnakes and everything. It’s desolate, and beautiful.)

But being off the grid shouldn’t have stopped me from writing. I’ve drafted many a post off-line. And, ordinarily, I’m constantly working words, weaving sentences, knitting ideas in my mind. Crafting posts as I nurse, rock, sing, walk, play.

But I haven’t done this. Not since Tuesday night.

Tuesday night (Wednesday morning, long before dawn) I sat up awake in the guest room of my sister’s house, WonderBaby asleep in a Pack’n’Play beside me, computer open on my lap. A Serious Family Drama had played out that evening, the second evening of our trip, and I couldn’t sleep until I had purged my mind of the surging emotion and clattering worry and slowed the pace of my frantically beating heart. So I wrote. I blogged. And as I blogged, I fretted about the destination of my words. Would I publish this post? Could I publish this post? The words were so fraught with worry and confusion. They revealed so much.

Was I blogging too close to the bone?

I was. But I had nowhere else to go. Husband was dead asleep, miles away in Toronto, not answering the phone. All I could do was write. And the place that I write – the place where my writing lives and breathes, the place where the writing becomes real – is the blog. So I sat there, in the dark, and wrote a post. And when I was done, my fingers hovered over the mouse pad. Hit Publish? Or Save as Draft? Publish? Or Save?

If I hit Publish, somebody might read, and understand, and send words of commiseration, of comfort. But more importantly, I would be advancing the true story of our lives – my life, WonderBaby’s life, the life of our family – in all of its gore and glory. I would be honest. WonderBaby’s Royal Tour is not, will not be, a series of picture perfect snapshots, family portraits against postcard backdrops, amusing anecdotes and colourful stories about eccentric grandparents and boisterous cousins. The story of this trip is one more instalment in the serial narrative of our lives and it has more than its share of pathos and drama. It’s a messy story, as full of tears and anxiety as it is full of laughter and kisses. Writing this trip honestly – holding true to the narrative as it unfolds in our real lives – means writing the truth. But what if the truth is sloppy and naked and scared?

How much revelation is too much? Where is the line between writing honestly, and exposing one’s self?

I hit Save. Better safe, as they say, than regretful. Better safe.

But I haven’t been able to write since.

All of my thoughts and feelings and worries over the past few days have defied composition, because I begin each mental post with a caution to myself: you can’t blog this. You shouldn’t blog this. You won’t blog this. And that stops me cold.

My determination to stay safe is choking the writing. I need to find a way to write honestly, without crossing whatever line exists between honesty and overexposure. To tell my story, our stories, without violating trusts, without divulging secrets, without baring souls too completely. And without turning pathos into bathos.

I have to find that way. So that I can continue writing, in a way that keeps my mind and heart and conscience clear. And so that the stories I pass on to WonderBaby are true stories, the truest stories, so that she can know her mother, her father, her family. Her history.

Her story. Her true story.