Getting One’s Bearings at Square One



Playing Scrabble with my boy.
Something that never gets old.
Something I once imagined I would never see or do.


I’m spending a lot of time these days at the proverbial Square One.

There are, if you’ve been reading my blog of late, a lot of changes in the air. 

The move.

The unexpected loss of my job, the retooling of my resume into a functional one, and the uncertainty of what comes next. 

The shifting of everything from our finances to our daily routine.  (We pulled the kids out of before and after school care last week, effectively eliminating a significant source of social interaction for Betty and – most critically, Boo. The before/after school program is also the site of summer camp, which has also been nixed. It terrifies and angers me what this loss will do to his hard-earned social skills. It really does.)

But as jarring and frightening as this time is in so many ways, being at Square One does have some benefits. 

The clutter has (literally) been swept clean from almost every surface in the house. (I admit I could get used to such, an admission that I’m sure must come as music to my mom’s ears.)

And the closing of the door with the job situation has opened up more time (for now, while the kids are in school) for the novel.  A newfound Facebook friend recently asked about it, inquired if I had a publisher, and my response (after I’d finished laughing) was that I had 60 pages of random crap.

Which I undoubtedly do.  I have half-written scenes, different names for the same characters, no plot.  What I have is a scalding hot mess.

So yesterday, for the first time in many, many months, I opened the Word document and worked it anew.  Faced the hot mess head-on.  Started from the very beginning, from the very first word. 

I wrote one page. And while it still isn’t perfect (and may never be), it felt … better.

I am not good at revision.  I loathe it.  Even when I know it needs to be done, I avoid it. 

But you know?  Yesterday there was something refreshing, something profoundly liberating about those 298 words. About chiseling away at them, Anne Lamott bird-by-bird style. About keeping hold of what is good and what anchors us to ourselves, to our stories. 

And about remembering that even at Square One, we still have the power to revise.

To start anew.

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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4 thoughts on “Getting One’s Bearings at Square One

  1. Elizabeth

    Yes, word by word. Funny thing is that today I was feeling overwhelmed by cake orders, and I thought of Anne Lamott’s bird by bird, word by word adage — for me, right now, it’s cake by cake.

  2. Beth Kephart

    gosh, I am so thinking of you, Melissa. We are, it is true, in square one city, the two of us. And we will see each other through. Glad to be on this journey (of life) in you.

    Enjoy those hours with your very special kids. These will be remembered years from now.

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