Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Same as it ever was

Me, on the steps of my old house
By Nicole Seitz

I can see how living with a writer may pose certain "challenges." A writer is either someone who IS writing, who HAS written, or who WILL write. Sometimes all those tenses happen at once. A writer who is writing is in her own blissful, maddening world and writing at all hours. A writer who has written is one who has to go out promoting, talking to clubs, talking the talk. A writer who will write is one who has yet to begin that next project, yet feels it looming. This is the creature I have become lately. A writer not yet writing is someone who is not sure what to do with herself, how to feel about herself or others. She is someone who is in the Twilight Zone of In Between.

A word of wisdom to writer spouses: Beware this kind of writer. Tread lightly. Your spouse may not feel/speak/act exactly like his/herself.

This week, I'm supposed to turn in my final line edits for my sixth novel. It's a great feeling. However, there's still that in between feeling--what should I write next, or rather, what will write ME next?

Oh, the In-between. My middle name is Transition lately. We're going through LOTS of changes around here. Anybody out there love change? Anyone? Anyone? I thought not.

As many of you know I started teaching art last year to 165 kids per week. But now that summer is here, it's just my two kids at home. It seems so quiet. I'm not sure what to do with all my time. Normally, I go a hundred miles an hour with no time to eat, sit, or use the facilities.

And more transition. Last week, we moved to a new house. Anyone know what moving is like? Being the daughter of a builder, I had only lived in houses that I'd built and knew intimately (spoiled, I know, but honest). I knew where all my furniture would go, the colors of the countertops and walls, I would envision it for months...but this time, we've moved into a house about 22 years old with about 30 days' notice. As far as I know, we're the third owners of the home, and I can see the touches of the owners who were here before me--the colors of the walls, the wear on the deck, the purple passion vines climbing the railing.

The transition is not exactly seamless.

We're having a hard time making our furniture fit some of the rooms, and although I am counting my blessings, selling and buying in this economy, I still find myself wrestling the grout in the bathroom, trying to make it sparkle again. I am covered in bruises from misjudging doorways and unpacking boxes. In this strange new place I find myself, I heard a song today by Talking Heads that summed up my existence--in between books, in between teaching, and in a different house. Who am I exactly? A writer in between books? A teacher in between teaching? A woman looking out into a strange yet lovely back yard? How did I get here?
You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
You may find yourself in another part of the world
You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife
You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

You may ask yourself, how do I work this?
You may ask yourself, what is that large automobile?
You may tell yourself, this is not my beautiful house
You may tell yourself, this is not my beautiful wife

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground

Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was

Hearing this song made me realize I'm not the only one who feels this way. We all go through changes. Transition. About a month ago I read a book I got from an old company I worked for back in the 90s when it was about to go public, Who Moved My Cheese? Someone has definitely moved my cheese, but how I respond to it, my attitude, is going to make all the difference in the world. Even good stress is S-T-R-E-S-S. I thought I was better at handling change, but somewhere along the way (actually, the older I get), it seems change has started "handling" me.

So I'm fighting back.

In the midst of all this change, there is a big book in a box on our POD that says that God is the same as he was yesterday, today and tomorrow. So I firm my shoulders. Yes, I will make it here. In fact, I will love it here, but I have to make this place my own. I have to DO something.

Today I painted my daughter's room South Pacific blue. I also tackled her bathroom vanity, even replacing the old hinges and hardware with new chrome. I'm almost on a first-name basis with the people at Lowe's. I drilled new holes where they needed to be. I replaced dingy switch plates with crisp new white ones. I changed out pendant glass and light bulbs. I rearranged my bedroom furniture to take advantage of the morning light. And in all this DOing, I'm starting to feel more like myself.

Seeing as this is a writing blog, you should know what all this contemplation about change means to my writing. It's simple. After six novels, I do not know what I'll write next. I have know idea what God might choose to write through me next. I say that because honestly, I couldn't write a word without him. I never planned on being in this new home. I never planned on teaching art to kids, either. Come to think of it, I never planned on being a writer, but if I turn back to my compass, back to the one who has plans for me and knows the number of my days, nothing surprises Him. To Him, my life, my path, my plans are just the "same as it ever was", same as it ever was. In all this transition, that gives me great comfort. When things settle down and my furniture starts to fit the walls and the tile is so clean I can eat on it, I shall sit down at this computer and write again. I will make my fingers move. I will write again. A new novel. Real words on real paper. No more in between. Just thinking about it makes me excited.

I can't wait to see what's in store for me --and my readers--next.

So how about you? What change are you going though? A move? A new job? A new child? A new empty nest? When you find yourself in transition, instead of being paralyzed and looking deer-eyed, you must DO something to move out of transition and into...well, whatever is coming next. Don't just freeze up, DO something to make the in-between more bearable. You might just realize that God has you exactly where you're supposed to be at this precise moment in time. It's the same as it ever was.
Nicole Seitz is the author and cover illustrator of The Inheritance of Beauty, Saving Cicadas, A Hundred Years of Happiness, Trouble the Water, and The Spirit of Sweetgrass. The Inheritance of Beauty was a Books-a-Million Faithpoint Book Club Selection for May 2011. Nicole teaches art at a local private school in the Charleston, SC area, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is currently editing her sixth novel and contemplating a seventh.


River Jordan said...

Oh I love every woes of this. I wondered about you and house situation. Now, I know. I love that Talking Heads song. Have it on my phone and iPod. And have lately been thinking a lot about my cheese and that book because it just ain't where it's suppose to be :) blessings Nicole on the now moment and the future!

Bella Michelle said...

As the daughter of a writer, I understand those "seasons" of life and how they are truly just cycles for your family! I am so glad to hear your are working on a new project though! Can't wait to hear about it...oh, and Happy New Home!!!

Judy said...

Wonderful column. My favorite change philosopher is Dilbert: "Change is good. You go first." We recently made some changes in our kitchen, and your wonderful piece of art looks so pretty on an old shelf. I took a photo for you. Next step: Send it to you! Look forward to hearing what novel project you choose next -- or which one chooses you. Judy Christie

Susan Cushman said...

Great post, Nicole. I'm in transition right now, too. I'm cleaning out, organizing and staging our house for the market. I did the downstairs last year, and now it's the upstairs, which mainly needs carpet and paint now. But I had to take down my art studio because it was a huge mess taking up the entire landing that overlooks the den below. The realtor said it was a distraction to prospective buyers, and it was. But now that space is EMPTY and it's up to me to stage it. Kind of fun, though. But the creative energy involved means I have to put off work on my novel for a few weeks. Once the house it staged, I'll be ready to hop back in. Thanks for your inspiration!

Room Designer said...

It is all together a refreshing feeling to build our own house and live in it.