I don’t know what I would do if I were ever forced to choose between tea and writing. They have both become so important to my emotional well-being. I have moments when there is a nearly frantic internal pull to get words on paper. I feel anxious, full of energy, and driven to create. My challenge is that when you are a stay-at-home mom with three kids and a part-time job, you can’t always satiate that craving. I feel like I constantly battle this struggle that words and ideas are slipping through my synapses, into the ether, gone forever. What if those were the words that would change everything? The kernel of a book, the perfect pitch, the story that would change someone’s life. Gone. I have notebooks (too many) where I scratch down thoughts as I can. I’ve left myself emails, voicemails, texts. But too often, the ideas don’t get beyond those words scratched between the blue lines of the notebook.
When people ask me what I’m writing these days, I’m not sure what to say. I used to have this thing about books. I could only read one at a time and I never, ever stopped reading a book until I finished it. I can name three books I didn’t complete and those were the only ones. Ever. Something changed in the past two years. Now I routinely have 3-4 books started at once, bouncing between them, having trouble remembering to finish any of them. This is what my writing is like. I have more projects than I can count. Here’s a brief run-down:
1) Of course there’s my work with Tea Magazine. That’s always first and it allows me to write, but also to hone my editing skills which I’ve grown to love. I used to work with a young woman that I think traumatized with the amount of red ink I put on her drafts. She was a smart, enthusiastic worker and I wanted her to become the excellent writer I knew she could be. And I think she did. (Sorry for the tears in between. I did it because I believed in you!) — Currently for the magazine I’m getting ready to write about an amazing experience I had — visiting the White House to cover the Joining Forces Mother’s Day Tea hosted by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. There was even a special appearance by Prince Harry. Once I’ve settled what photos and pieces belong to the magazine I’ll be sure to share some special thoughts with my blog family.
2) The blogs – I have two going (sort of.) Tea Pages will always be my first love, but I also started KAM Reads, a blog about children’s books, which needs time to build and grow. I’ve done a few starter posts, but more will come.
3) The books – People often ask if I’m working on something new since A Tea Reader. The short answer is yes. The long answer is “a lot of somethings.” I have three tea book ideas — another that delves into the emotion and the people of tea while the other two both consider changes in American tea culture and business over time. These are the projects that cause me the most anxiety because they are all important to me and I haven’t yet found the time to make them real.
4) The other books – Most of the writing I share with the world has been non-fiction, but there is a part of me that dreams of publishing some fiction. I have one book that I know I have to finish. It was my first NaNoWriMo project (National Novel Writing Month – write a book of 50,000 words or more in one month.) A year and a half later and I still love the idea of this book. Where do I find the time to edit? I did NaNoWriMo again this past November but that project has been fine sitting in a drawer and may sit there forever. Ah, but then, new inspiration has struck. My son has become fascinated with mythology – primarily Greek and Roman for now, although he’s been reading some Norse as well. (He’s 8.) It began with Percy Jackson and has now spread to whatever forms he can find these tales. I’ve been inspired by him and two ideas hit me like a ton of bricks. Ideas I MUST get on paper. Soon. But when?
5) Co-writing – And then there is one last project on which I am a co-author. Or maybe transcriber and editor. I’ve spent the last few months helping a friend with a very special project. We’re raising funds to rebuild a local playground in memory of her beautiful nephew, who was lost last summer at just 10 months in a terrible drowning accident. My son wanted to help. He has decided to write a book and sell it so he can donate the money to the playground. I told him I’d help him — he could dictate and I’d take notes and ask him questions when he got stuck. The project has taken on a life of its own. He’s written more than 3000 words in two weeks. (He might be ready for NaNoWriMo himself!) It’s amazing to watch his amazement as the story comes out of his mouth and things happen that he hadn’t expected to happen. It’s magical and it reminds me why I love to write.
And the tea. The tea is always there for me. When I feel anxious about my writing, I pour tea. When I find myself unfocused or stuck, I turn on the kettle. A particular flavor can help me find words. A scent transports me out of my usual routine and back onto the page. They are, happily, inextricably linked.
Tonight I write. I get words on paper and say thanks for the moments I have to write and sip.