Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What We're Good At

By Elizabeth

Right now, a couple of handymen are installing a closet system in my daughter's room. They already tackled a new ceiling fan in another bedroom, plus a fixture to clothe an ugly naked lightbulb. Next up is repairing the disaster of a closet in my room with a shiny new mirrored door.

They seem very good at what they do. I am very bad at what they do. But I write a lovely thank you note.

As someone with the luxury of a day job that doesn't pay, I get to set my own schedule and write as the muse strikes. (Assuming a laundry emergency doesn't strike at the same time, or a kid function, or...) This is both a blessing and a burden. I don't think I need to explain the blessing part. The burden, though, is that my office is my home, and nothing here is ever fully done, always needing more, and it's hard to sit down to write without feeling the pull of a thousand other things. (True leisure time is another blog post altogether. When your work space and your play space are the same, it can be hard to chill. At least for me. What really happens is too little work of both kinds, without the benefit of any real fun. Which is not so fun.)

And here's the real rub, for me. I am not so great at a lot of the around-the-house stuff that falls under my purview. You want moist banana bread tomorrow, I'm your girl. Need errands run, or to find the best local prices for macadamia nuts, or an ethnic restaurant recommendation? Give me a call. Pay the bills, plan the trips, keep four schedules and a trio of picky eaters' preferences in my head while remembering a couple dozen birthdays, check. The kitchen floor? Not so much.

I think I've blogged before about coming to terms with admitting I'm a writer. I'm still practicing, getting better at saying it out loud and then the brief follow-up to the the inevitable questions that follow. Here's where it's tricky: by proclaiming I'm a writer, I'm also saying I believe I'm good enough at it to publicly label myself such. Deep in my heart, I've always believed I'm pretty good with a pen, but saying so out loud, to friends and strangers, carries at least a whiff of vanity.

But here's the thing: it's not vain to be good at what you are good at, or to say so. Oprah is not only the Queen of Daytime, she's a queen of empathy, and I'd bet she'd tell you so herself. Steve Carrell knows he's funny and would likely say so. And Jane Austen was not only beloved by her many nieces and nephews, she considered good aunting nearly an art, one at which she excelled. (Rumor has it she wrote a little on the side as well.)

Those guys working in the other part of the house are good with their hands and tools. Maybe they're good writers as well--heaven knows we scribblers come from all walks, including stay-at-home moms like me. I write. I'm good at it. And I'm working at it, except when I take a break to write a check to cover some other stuff that's not my forte.

1 comment:

  1. Elizabeth: It is difficult to admit to being a writer, particularly if you haven't written in a long time, like me. And saying it out loud makes it real and leads to inevitable questions from others (What do you write? Are you published? Where can I see your writing?) so thinking you are (I am) 'good enough' is a very big step. You sound further along the road than me in that regard. I've just found your web site and will return to read more. Thanks! Darlene


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