no room at the Glass Slipper Inn, or, thoughts on writing time

sorry, no vacancy

sorry, no vacancy

There’s so much to see driving along the fabled strip of El Camino Real. Most weeks, I drive past the Glass Slipper Inn, and always, part of me wants to stop and check in for the night just to say I’ve stayed there, under that fairy tale roof. Truthfully, though, the Glass Slipper Inn looks more fallen-on-hard-times than fairy tale.

Anyway, what is the Fairy Tale? And how did that phrase become associated with whirlwind romance, being whisked away to heaven-on-earth and dreams-come-true? Have you ever read The Robber Bridegroom, or the original Cinderella? How about Hansel and Gretel? If not, let me just say that people lose body parts and children are left for dead in the woods. The real fairy tales aren’t sweeping romances; they’re gritty and cautionary, often downright scary. And, in this way, much more realistic than what we’ve come to label fairy tales.

Oh dear, there I go getting philosophical. It’s because I just feel the need to remind myself: there is no Fairy Tale. Real life is the fairy tale. Sometimes we dance ’til midnight with a handsome prince, yes; and sometimes we look around and we’re suddenly lost in the forest. And often, in between times, yep: picking up lentils from the floor.

(Ok, in case you don’t want to read that link, in the original Cinderella, the stepmother threw a bowl of lentils on the floor and told Cinderella she could go to the ball if she picked up all the lentils before it was time to leave).

Which is to say: OMG, will I ever have time to write again? 🙂

This was the year I was going to finally have predictable writing time — with all three kids in school all day, every day. That was my Fairy Tale. Yesterday, I drove past the Glass Slipper Inn: no vacancy. Yeah, I said out loud, tell me about it. Between illnesses and other health issues and… well, really just illnesses and other health issues… I just haven’t had that predictable writing time this year. In fact, I think I had more writing time last year when Sister was not even in school all day.

And yet, the “no vacancy” sign was a good reminder. The fairy tale is not the same as the Fairy Tale. There’s no room in the Fairy Tale for real life. We think we’re entering a predictable stretch — a little bit of Fairy Tale, maybe — but life is not predictable. Life is messy. Look, there are lentils all over the floor.

A po-friend of mine went to a workshop where the instructor asked: What if the time available to you is all the time you need?

I write this to remind myself: You’re living the dream, girl. And I am. You have all the time you need. I’m trying to believe this. Also, I know for a fact that picking up lentils from the floor can sometimes lead to your next poem or project.

Which is not to say that I don’t pine for long stretches of predictable writing time. But which is to say keeping at it is the most important thing: a scrap at a time, a poem at a time, a page at a time, day at a time. And possibly even a lentil at a time. Amen.

10 thoughts on “no room at the Glass Slipper Inn, or, thoughts on writing time

  1. “Which is to say . . .” you’ve said it so well.

    Which is to say the lentils are all over my floor, too — tripping me up, slowing me down, and dangit, they’re good for me, too.

    Thanks for the perspective, Molly.

  2. One small lentil at a time…just where my head & my writing time find themselves right now. Well said, Molly.

  3. I love fairy tales. I have an old, red-bound book of fairy tales that I read from. I finally, only recently, read my 8 year old the french story of “Bluebeard” – with that character’s terrible habit of killing off his wives as a punishment for their curiosity. I love how the key to that little locked door is magic and no sooner does she wash the blood off one side of the key does the blood re-appear on the other side! At least the story has a happy ending. One of my favorites is also “The King of the Cats”. I’ve often wanted to try my hand at writing a modern fairy tale. Perhaps we could do that in the near future?

  4. is “the robber bridegroom” anything like “the robber bride” by margaret atwood? because i am reading the latter now. how odd that they are so similarly titled. atwood’s is good so far, incidentally.

    and yeah, most people i know are living the fairy tale. at least their own version. or the version that multitudes of people on this earth would love to live (i.e. enough food, water, living space, etc.). who needs a prince to rescue you, anyway?

    • Amen to that, sister (living the fairy tale, that is).

      It’s been too long since I’ve read The Robber Bride, but I’m sure there must be some resonance with the fairy tale… . My favorite M. Atwood is The Blind Asassin.

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