Gratitude, Writing, Future and Past Selves

I’ve been pretty quiet here for a while now. As usual, it’s because I’ve been anything but quiet everywhere else. I’m teaching lots and writing lots, and it’s left very little time to write here, and sometimes it feels like I’ve also very little time to breathe. But I shouldn’t complain, because I’m enjoying every minute of it.

I’ve given myself this week off writing though. I’ve told myself I can read, if I want to, but no writing. (This doesn’t count, right?) I handed in my major uni project last week (15,000 words), and immediately felt drained. I need a week away from words. In fact, it’s taken me at least four days to even turn my computer on, and I’ve not yet started the tedious task of tidying up the mess of my desk.

But, tidying up my thoughts (if not my desk), I came across this. I’m always pleased to see a post from Claire Bidwell Smith pop up in my reader feed. I actually read this post last week, but haven’t had a chance to process the thoughts or write about them until now. I’ve been reading Claire’s blog now for… I think about four or five years. I’ve read about her engagement, her marriage, her pregnancy, her steps into motherhood. Claire lost both her parents to cancer by the time she was 25, and she writes often about grief — in a way that’s both clear and accessible for someone who’s not experienced the kind of grief she’s describing.

Claire’s words have changed me, there’s absolutely no doubt about it. The way she writes about her life has reframed the way I think about mine. Such is the power of words, fiction or otherwise. And she uses them so beautifully.

Next year Claire’s memoir about her experiences with grief will be published by Penguin (Text Publishing have picked up the Australian rights). I cannot wait to read this book.

I spent most of the last week sitting at my desk, forcing words to make their way out of my brain and onto a page. The essay I was working on was proving particularly difficult to pin down — the ideas were many and varied; I had too much I wanted to say. After finally coaxing out a full first draft, I came to read this post of Claire’s. She’s written before about having a sense of past lives within the one that she’s currently living, past selves within herself, and it’s an idea that resonates with me. I’m often astounded at all the lives I appear to have already led within this one. The way she describes her present-day self talking to her 23-year-old self is just wonderful. And her description of her more youthful self’s determination gives fuel to my own. I wonder what the Future Me would say to the Present Me.

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