I'm Not Doing Nothing" by Kathryn Etters Lovatt
I do a lot of thinking in the shower. And not so long ago, the final rinse spraying over me, I thought, I can write this morning….or I can do something else. Anything else.
After scrubbing the glass door, which was clean enough—clean enough for me anyway—I located a brush and perused the grout. That’s my story: a writer who resists writing. A writer who will do nearly anything to avoid writing. Too often, I choose the uninspiring chore over the blank page, click Facebook rather than the Word icon, elect mindlessness over mindfulness.
Here’s my trouble: writing is not only a calling, it’s also a discipline. Like prayer or meditation, writing demands a particular kind of devotion and energy. For me, the process is rife with frustration and disappointment, and the work, done alone in an intuitive place that is not nearly so tangible (or as simple) as a basket of dirty laundry, requires leave-taking from to-do lists in order to enter a creative space. And, unfortunately, that illusive spot will not be summoned with a snap of the fingers. I am not much good at sitting and staring, but I do a lot of both in those hours I give over to the effort of placing one sentence after another.
So, why? Why write at all?
Because, sometimes, what rises from your labors comes close to what you had hoped to say, and, oddly enough, those kinds of pieces come through and not totally from us—we’ve only gotten out of the way. That is how I feel about my story in His Mother! Women write about their mothers-in-law with humor, frustration, and love.
Marian Lovatt, my own mother-in-law, was a character long before I put her into words, but as I wrote about her, and now when I read my pretty true version of her in print, I remember that I’m not doing nothing when I sit and stare and wait on whatever a writer waits upon, I am listening.
Kathryn Etters Lovatt earned her M.A. in Creative Writing and English from Hollins University. She continued her studies at Hong Kong University, where she taught American Studies. A former winner of the Doris Betts Prize, she also won Press 53’s short story prize. A Virginia Center of the Arts Fellow, her work has most recently appeared in North Carolina Literary Review on line and moonShine Review as well as in the anthologies Serving Up Memory, What I Wish I could Tell You and His Mother, and Wild, Wonderful 'n Wacky, South Cackalacky. She received SC Arts Commission’s individual artist grant for prose in 2013. She lives and writes in Camden, SC.