A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire…
A Room of My Own
I am obsessed with place. As the daughter of Cuban refugees, I ingested this obsession in my mother’s milk. My family was not terribly prone to nostalgia, but as I grew up in Miami amid the hum of stories of life in an island homeland 90 miles away, I could not escape the feeling that I was in the wrong place. Although I was planted and blossoming in this country still foreign to my parents and grandparents, their voices convinced me that my roots must certainly be in Cuba. My gaze, Janus-like, was always simultaneously looking forward and looking back.
My obsession with place informs the subject of many of my poems, but only lately have I realized that it also informs my writing process. I started writing when my daughters were in 5th and 6th grade, when so much of my time was spent buckled in my car driving them to and from the constellation of places in their lives, or parked and waiting for them to emerge from school or practices or friends’ houses. I kept a small journal in the space between the driver and passenger seat, so that no matter where I found myself I could gather scraps of images or thoughts to develop once I found myself in the right place for writing. I didn’t feel like a real poet because I thought I was writing in the wrong place.
Now my oldest daughter is a freshman in college and her sister will follow in August. With tentative but real joy, I have been slowly converting a room in my house into that inviolable room of my own that Virginia Woolf imagined for us all, surrounding myself with inspiration for creativity – my favorite poets, ancestral photos and letters, a family tree, treasured objects, and colors in shades of ocean blue. The trouble I am finding is that I cannot write there – at least not yet. My inspiration, when it comes, still arrives when I am on the road. I seem to be most present to my inner and outer world when I am on pilgrimage.
So I let go, for now, embracing my truth that as the daughter of refugees, I am rooted in my displacement.
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