Paper Whites


Writing? What writing? As I stare at this white paper, empty and yet pregnant with doubts about being a writer, I can only think about my recent past and how I’ve made that my excuse for not writing. Another new year and it seems I’ve lost all seeds of inspiration.

If not for pictures, I may forget more than just the words, so as I go through the photos on my iPhone trying to recapture the year, I will try to recreate my life. But I cannot see the forest through the trees. Recently, my life has been as full as a house jam-packed with clutter — just don’t light a match. (Forgive the metaphors, at least I’m writing shit down!) Life isn’t the simple life I thought I wanted — the life of a writer — but I wouldn’t change anything, really.

The wait for something to happen with my writing has been like a ten-month pregnancy. And just as I should be blistering over with new fodder for story ideas, the writing seems to stop, as it did the year before last when I found myself expecting my first grandchild (our Esperanza/Hope). Out of wedlock, I finally got married a couple of months later to my Coast Guard (don’t even get me started on life savior metaphors or how my ship finally came in). And then, not even nine months later, I had another grandchild so I put my writing on hold to hold my grandbabies. My writing life has altered faster than a diaper change.

But at least my ailing mom was happy to meet her two great-grandchildren. She was even happier to know that I was married (even though it wasn’t in the church and he was a Gringo) and not living in sin anymore. She did a little Mexican Hat Dance at our wedding reception — the best one (of my three) she’d ever attended, she told me. She could now die happy. A few months later she did die, but it wasn’t a very happy transition, especially amongst my siblings. All kinds of shit from the past came to the clogged toilet’s surface.

And then a couple of months after Mom passed, my sister’s Malibu home has burned to the ground in the Woolsey fire. Only the scorched foundation is left under the ashes. Not to sound cliché, but it really does put things into perspective about what’s important in life and yet I ask myself, what’s it all about, Alfie? Past sins also seem to have been gutted in the fire, if not just temporarily, but any seeds of motivation have also burned away. Being a writer doesn’t seem so important anymore. Life is so precious and I’m paralyzed by the thoughts of it all sizzling away faster than a Woolsey Wildfire — especially before having become a smoking red-hot writer myself.


Scrolling through my smart phone, I now notice the photo I took while visiting my sister’s fire-ravaged property a few days after the fire. Three little flowers — paper whites — have miraculously pushed up through the charred soil, tiny faces beaming toward the sun. Standing tall in the shadow of the ruins, like the three Marys under the three crosses on Mount Calvary, the white-capped mini saints seem to be shouting at me, “Hey, look at us, nothing can keep us down — not a little fire, not even the crucifixion of our Lord! Pick up your pen and write, you big whiner!”

Three days later, I shall rise from the dead. The seeds of inspiration have been sown: babies, new life, new growth, death, changes, love, forgiveness, and hope.

But for now, my husband is asking me to join him down at the marina to check on our boats (this Coastie and writer don’t own boats, we manage and care for them). What can I tell him? No, I’m a writer not a boat cleaner. Leave me alone. 

Actually, I will use this as another excuse not to write, but I do see a story here and at least I’ve written this all down before grabbing, unfortunately not a pen, but my cleaning supplies.


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