Cartwheels and Writing

Cartwheels and Writing

Haley is writing a story for school. A fractured fairy-tale. Her narrator is the Queen of Hearts, the villain in Alice in Wonderland telling the untold story of how Alice is the real villain of wonderland.

I’m impressed. For 5 pages she keeps the story cohesive, free of plot holes, and plump with dialogue. I highlight a few ambiguous pronouns, some unnecessary adjectives, and a few misplaced commas.

In between writing sentences, she cartwheels around the house. She makes both writing and body control look effortless, easy.

She tells me, “This isn’t hard.”

And I don’t know if she’s talking about writing or cartwheels or both. But either way–I’m jealous.

Maybe because autumn has turned or because I’m teaching again or because I spend my evenings drag racing to soccer practice but lately, writing has proven itself difficult.

My mind and body are tired. My Ataxia is staying up late and sipping whiskey. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you there’s a desire to mail-in teaching and writing and parenting and husbandry.

If I’ve learned anything about writing and Ataxia is that you have to sit with both of them. Not make peace. But sit with them and listen like a priest entertaining a  confession.

Take this post. To avoid writing, I opened Facebook. I scrolled and saw a guy I went to grade school and high school with died suddenly in his sleep.

We weren’t close but friendly. Though we hadn’t talked in years, he sent me a message on January 16, 2016 congratulating me for starting Write on Fight on. He said he appreciated my passion for writing and helping others. He said he likes to write but he keeps his writing hidden in a desk drawer. “Maybe one day,” he says. He urges me to keep writing. He says if I have another Write on Fight on t-shirt sale he’ll buy one.

I read his message, see his face, and hear his voice. I remember how we used to play pick-up hockey together. How we once did a 7th grade science project together. I scroll his Facebook page. He has two young daughters.

I close the computer and turn on the TV. Game 7 of the World Series is on. It’s 2-2 in the 7th inning and I’m not interested. I turn off the TV and return to this piece.

I sit on the couch with the computer on my lap, dreading writing yet needing the high that comes from willing something into existence. A high that will make me, as Billy Joel crooned, “forget about life for a while.” I’m thinking about how sometimes my brain doesn’t send the right signals to my legs and balance is hard and how steps are hard and how it is physically impossible to do a cartwheel or even attempt anything resembling a cartwheel. I think about how, sometimes, life is unfair.  How a guy I knew is now dead. And how his daughters must go to sleep tonight, and every other night here after, without him.

If Haley were awake, I would tell her cartwheels and writing will not always be this easy. Things will get hard. Your body will reject you. Your mind will reject you. Your stories will be marked with plot holes. And like fathers, characters  die and don’t come back.

I would then tell her despite the loss and pain you must not stop doing the things you love: Cartwheels. Writing.

People need enthusiasm and love and stories.

Just because your heart breaks does not give you the godly right to break someone else’s heart, even if you’re the Queen of Hearts.

I would then kiss her forehead, tell her it’s late and she needs to get some sleep. Tomorrow is another day of cartwheels and writing.

Be well,


Checkout the post, Can poetry save lives?

Poetry gets the short-end of the literary stick. Poetry suffers from, as writer Andre Simmons calls it, ” an image problem.” It’s brevity and form intimates us. How can I understand it, if I can’t understand it?

Also–we often don’t experience poetry in our daily lives. We don’t see it the check out line or waiting for an oil change.  Yet when we do see it, we don’t know what to do with it. So we ignore it, like the mole on the back of our leg, which we pretend is not there.

Picture courtesy of and taken by Mary S.

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