Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Write On, Dude

A Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers II is out today. I have several reasons to be jubilant about this.

My husband used to put me down. He made nasty little threats. Took my graduate school money. Wouldn’t let me take one day off. Wouldn’t let me take a vacation. Got mad when I had friends. Got mad when I painted or drew. Got mad when I distinguished myself in any way. Oddly, I never really thought of it as abusive because I laughed at him and did most of what I wanted, anyway. But I got what I always called “the punishments.”

And then one day I volunteered to write my subdivision’s newsletter. My husband was mad. Again.

It was only when he tried to punish me for writing that I really began to see him for what he was. I was living life with a human being who seemed only to know how to take--a parasite. Suddenly, I wanted to fling him off and feel free again. And the way I did that was by writing. It felt like I wrote myself back into existence. I felt paradoxically whole again.

He got mad when I used his computer...I used it anyway. Wouldn’t baby-sit the children so that I could take a computer class...I took it while the youngest was in preschool. He wouldn’t keep an eye on the children so I could write the newsletter...I locked myself in the bathroom and scribbled on scraps of paper while they lay on the floor outside and put their little fingers under the door.

When I tried to write creatively, the computer “crashed.” Twice. When people dropped off items for the newsletter, he literally pushed himself into the conversation. He had jealous fits when men brought articles for me to print. He tried distracting me every way he knew how. He even tried pretending to people that he’d been secretly doing the writing for me.

But I wrote and wrote and wrote. And I found myself again in those words. And finally, much, much later than I should have, I left him.

I left in spite of poverty, attacks, and struggles. I left in spite of the fact that most of my extended family is dead. I left in spite of a future that’s worse than uncertain; more poverty, attacks and struggles are certain. And I’m not a bit sorry.

Then last week, he shorted child support even though last I knew, he made 16 times what I do (although I do 100% of the parenting and pay 20% of college and medical expenses). So when I emailed him to ask where it was, I got this telling little email: “I would think that by now with all of your writing deals and book signings that you really wouldn't have time to mess with trying to extort yet more money from me.”

So right now, I am laughing….And I am writing. And those snarky little words are music to my ears.

Is it tacky of me to be telling this? Probably. But the truth is, if I had read this a few years ago, it would have helped me…so I will write. And it helps me now…so I will write. As long as this controlling person attacks me, I will write. As long as any controlling people attack anyone, I will write and write and write. And if they don’t attack, I will still write…about something else.

It's not bragging when I announce I have a story coming out. That’s not it at all. It's not about being a great writer. It's not even really about writing. It's not about being special or successful or making money. It's about refusing to give up or give in to a person who—for reasons I will probably never understand—thought love meant destroying me. It’s about celebrating. It’s about saying, you can take everything away from me, but you can’t take me. I am still here. And in spite of it all, I am happy.

The truth is that monetary poverty is nothing—nothing—compared to the starvation of the creative spirit.

“I dedicate this book to that part of myself that inched forward when a thousand winds blew and she had but one small pink birthday candle to hold up her wish….” ~Tama J. Kieves, This Time I Dance! Trusting the Journey of Creating the Work You Love


  1. Tammy, you definitely need a GREAT publisher to find YOU! This blog is absolutely the most powerful one yet! You are by far, the most talented writer I know....and that, I mean "know" as in person or "know" as in reading my favorite author's books.

  2. Becky, I think the true measure of a person's greatness isn't in their accomplishments (although you have a ton of those!), but in the generosity of their spirit...and yours is amazing. I think that's why you're such a great writer yourself--your spirit always shines though, and people just naturally want to walk into the light!

  3. Tammy, you've made me speechless, which is a very rare thing indeed.....


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