I never gave them much thought until last summer, when I took my two youngest to our postage-stamp-sized backyard, determined to see dirt instead of the overgrown mess of vine and leaves and weeds and whatever else had taken over our space.
As we pulled, and pulled, and pulled and pulled the pulling became harder and harder and harder as the leaves and vines and weeds seemed to grow thicker. Stronger. Stubborn as hell and refusing to budge.
I sent the kids inside for something to drink and stood there, in that little space that had become so much work, and looked at the tree that sits on the fence line. Looking up to the branches I cursed the needles that fall and cover the ground, suffocating everything I’ve tried to plant in my one little space.
Looking down, I saw the trunk disappear under the soil but turn up again, offshoots meant to be buried but peeking out from the suffocated dirt. Twisty and turned and tangled, the roots somehow looked simultaneously angry and peaceful. Content in its mix of beauty and beast, gnarled and intricate, old enough to be wise yet still somehow playful, like those roots were sneaking in a game of peekaboo before it was too late.
My identity as a writer mimics that tree.
I’ve only recently claimed the title. Writer. When I tell people that’s what I do, they assume I write sweeping sagas or steamy romance novels or funny fiction. They assume that I live that writer’s life; days filled with make believe characters and leisurely lunches and quiet weekends spent tapping the keyboard as I settle into a comfy chair at a huge wooden desk, parked in front of an open window with an ocean view, pristine white shirt blowing in tandem with the salty sea breeze that wafts through just strong enough to whip through my hair but not so strong that it pushes that hair out of place.
OK, fine. Maybe I’m the one who thinks wishes that. And I digress.
Truth is, I don’t write sagas or steamy romance novels or fiction, funny or any other sort.
My writing had always been tethered to some requirement; it started as a high school newspaper editor, then turned into a way to market myself when I owned a business wholly unrelated to writing. It was something I loved but never thought I could do ‘for real.’ Because, in my world, when something comes so naturally it surely can’t be work.
When I lost a paralegal job and found myself an unemployed single mom, sick and f’ing tired of working for people who thought staying home with a sick child was ‘babysitting’ and that being a mom could be relegated to non-office hours, I leaped at the chance from to turn my hobby into a paycheck.
But I still didn’t call myself a writer.
It wasn’t until I stood under that tree, mesmerized by its roots and cursing the now-naked branches that dropped needles I’d spent the morning raking away, that I claimed the title writer.
Because I saw myself in those roots–twisty and turned and tangled–and realized I have stories to tell. Some stranger than fiction, some boring as hell and most somewhere in between. But they’re mine, whether they’re gnarled or playful, visible or not, intertwining and losing themselves in each other but still making room for the new ones that sprout. Sometimes they grow, sometimes they die and sometimes they stick around long past their prime. Most are swept away like those needles that litter my yard, but the ones that remain and demand to be heard are worth a thousand garbage bags full of dried, brittle discards.
Without my voice, my words, my twisted and turned and tangled unique perspective those stories don’t make sense. This keyboard has become my voice, my advocate, my true north, my therapist, my sounding board and my everything. I can’t imagine a day without the tapping of keys and the sharing of stories and have come to understand that, more often than not, what I can’t say I can speak through my words on a page.
I have always been a writer. I’m just ready now for my roots to show.
Lisa is a girl who grew from a daughter to a mom with an extended detour as a wife. A quintessential Cancer, wanna-be artist, questioning Catholic, believer in the underdog and a work in progress, she is a single mom of three and a freelance writer. She spends her days writing other people’s books as a ghost author and hooking up wayward souls as a profile writer for Match.com. She dumps her own junk at her blog, BacktoAllen.
Follow Lisa on Twitter HERE.
Say hello on Facebook HERE
Circle her on Google+ HERE