Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Where's my porpoise?

“They were obliged to have him with them,” the Mock Turtle said.  “No wise fish would go anywhere without a porpoise.”
“Wouldn’t it really?” said Alice in a tone of great surprise.
“Of course not,” said the Mock Turtle.  “Why, if a fish came to me and told me he was going a journey, I should say ‘With what porpoise?”
“Don’t you mean ‘purpose’? said Alice.
“I mean what I say,” the Mock Turtle replied with an offended tone.

 One year I read both Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and Through The Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll with my kids.  This is one of my all time favorite conversations between Alice and the Mock Turtle in Through The Looking-Glass.  Not only because it is hysterically funny, but because it had such a great message and none of us have ever been able to forget it.  In fact, with a few minutes time we can all still find the page it is on without a book mark. 

I remember watching Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” when I was a kid and I thought it was funny and I enjoyed it.  I never read the book until I was an adult with several children.  I know the movie never inspired the kind of fun or offered the same messages my kids and I got when we read the book.  The short of all this is that as I was thinking about this blog post, I was so distracted by life, kids, chores, errands, appointments and so on that I just could not come up with any ideas to write about- I was not just dealing with a blank screen or paper, I was dealing with a blank brain.  Then out of the blue, just when I needed it most, this lovely conversation came to me. 

I had tried to begin my journey without a porpoise.  It just so happens that it was also something that I had been thinking about with my current writing projects.  I have been asking myself, “Why is this story important enough to write?”  I am probably doing things in the wrong order- I suppose I should have a plan to begin with.  I have heard many writers talk about being “pantsers” and I suppose I fall into that category mostly.  Generally I do have a plan or a loose outline of sorts, then I let the characters or the story tell me how things go.  The thing that has concerned me most lately, is time.  I believe in writing even if it is only for myself.  The process does something for me, that nothing else can do- feeling words and ideas come out of my mind through my fingers and become visible manifestations of my thoughts is an amazing thing.  Sometimes I have read something I have written and thought- “Wow, did I write that?”  That being said, it also takes a lot of time.  I have very little of that I can lay claim to.

I read a question on a writing group loop, by another author, not long ago asking for advice about how to write when you have little kids and just as your creative juices get flowing you get interrupted’.  My thought was, ‘Yeah, how do you do that?  I have been wondering about that for many years.’  I don’t have any answer.  I wasn’t satisfied with any of the posted answers- nothing against those helpful authors that offered suggestions.  They just didn’t work for me, I have tried much if not all of their suggestions. I have nine kids and the oldest two are only twenty-one and eighteen.  The youngest two just turned three and one. They all get a lot of my time.  I have a husband who naturally would like some too.  My mom is currently living with us because of health reasons and by necessity requires some though she would rather not so much.  I still have household chores, too and neighbors and church and…

My thought, I guess is actually several, all pertaining to the time problem.  The first and most important- don’t begin without your porpoise!  Time will find itself when it is right as long as you have that porpoise firmly by the fin. 

Second, if it really means that much to you, don’t give up even when you want to because you are sooooo frustrated and think you will never get time before you have completely lost your mind and memory and can’t remember what you wanted to write and it was so good!

Third, writing is important.  You do have something worth saying if you truly believe you do and it burns inside you begging to be let out.  If you have a husband and children they are more important.  The kids are going to grow up and leave faster than you will want even if you don’t think so at the moment.  It will be worth waiting to let that burning out.  Maybe if we are lucky, or the stars align correctly or the fates will have pity and someone will come along with a suggestion that will work for us to write more consistently with our kids and our husbands and the other million and one things we need to do.  If not it will still be worth the wait.  Then if it isn’t any good and we have lost our memory we won’t remember it anyway.  “Attitude determines altitude.”  I think that is a quote from Denis Waitley (or some other positive speaker).  “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” David O McKay.  Yes, some things are worth waiting for no matter how frustrating the wait and it pays to smile through the tears of frustration. Porpoises like salt water.

Fourth, read. Read lots and lots. Read things that will inspire you so that when you are facing an unending sea of blank, things will come to you just when you need them most and it will help you smile through the tears as well. Porpoises like sunshine too. Consider reading the work you can do when you can’t write without interruption. When you are reading, things  that inspire you, share them with those you care about most.  Then if you have lost your memory, they can remind you.

My best wishes for many prosperous and porpoiseful journeys!


  1. Great inspiration to those in the same boat!!! I have nine children too and had to write at night when everyone was asleep. It will get better--I assure you. Now I can write all the time with the last two at 16 and 14 years old and the only ones home. Just don't wish the time away. Enjoy!!!

  2. Thanks Valerie! I am always grateful for encouragement. I am sure in the next few years I will be able to write at night more consistently- I have some who just won't go to sleep and others that don't stay there. Still, I am not rushing it, I have watched them getting older faster than I want. I know my time will come.