Me and Maurice

I write with one hand, my arms filled up with a child who holds my hair like a rope.

There’s no room for coffee and hardly time for writing so I slam my fingers on the keys with desperation.
The baby will be awake soon and there’s juice to pour but I can’t stop. I sacrifice dust bunnies for the craft, and it’s a pleasant exchange until company comes.

I write in the minivan as I drive by orange earth and olive trees. I decide they’re tied together by dusty trunks and as I watch the silver leaves touch the sunset I swoon at the poetry of it all.
I write Sesame Street poems.
I write with one hand.

Yesterday Maurice Sendak died and I cried. I loved his art and his words.  I was listening to an interview with him on NPR and he declared he was glad he never had children, he never wanted them, because his art required selfishness. 

I don’t want my art to be selfish. I don’t want it to stink, but if I have to chose between the two… 

19 thoughts on “Me and Maurice

  1. I never want my art to be selfish. It's a hard thing for me to balance sometimes.
    Sorry to hear about Maurice. I am off to google him.
    Oh and adore your poetry scattered along with the words you write.


  2. Stanzas of Chicken Soup with Rice are going through my mind right now. Surely relationships with real people, our family, children, etc., should enrich our art, not take from it, and vice versa.


  3. If this is what you make/write while being busy raising those wee masterpieces of yours, I can't wait to see what you'll make/write once they're grown. Look out world! And I hope I'm there to say, “I knew her when…” xx


  4. Balance is hard for us all. There are moments with the kids I know I wouldn't trade them for anything in this world and other times I would like nothing more than to lock myself in the bedroom for 5 minutes of peace and quiet. Off to google Maurice as well.


  5. oh. my. gosh. i know this so well. and you speak my heart {although you speak it far more beautifully than ever i could} and i think i'm going to read and re read and re read this about a million times. and whenever i'm kicking myself and getting all mad and telling my kids to give me a minute so i can write i'm going to read it again. because this is my life. and i love you. i think it's about time i make my husband drive me over there. although it's been really hot lately. don't you want to make a trip to the beach?


  6. you know, sometimes it feels like such a pull. me wanting to be fully in the moment. on the other hand, wanting everything to just pause so i can write it all down, just like i experience it. it is hard to keep the one hand on the paper while wiping a nose with the other 🙂 for what it is worth, you don't even see that you are juggling the two. your words just shine true. and pretty. kinda like you.


  7. Oh, finally someone I can talk about this with! I read that tidbit yesterday–how his art required selfishness, and cannot get it out of my mind. And what makes my heart hurt the worst is that he didn't know. In all his brilliance, he didn't know how much art is all about unselfishness. time consuming is one thing…and selfishness is another. and I wonder. I wonder how his art would have exploded if he had ever allowed his heart to do the same…I wonder.

    Hugs to you as you mourn this man of brilliance. there is no one like him. not one.


  8. Oh gosh, I had no idea – what a sad loss.

    I still vividly recall those days of children swinging at my skirts, and am amazed at how I split myself into a trillion every hour. Yet we do. Time does move on, good or bad. You always write, because it's what you do.


  9. Yep.

    Twelve years ago, my husband encouraged me to start writing. I was 31.
    But I was also a teacher. With an infant and a toddler. And a marriage.

    I wrote 200 pages of a novel before quitting.
    Because I couldn't teach, mother, wife and write.
    Something had to give.

    Three years ago I took a leave of absence to write full-time while my kids were in school.
    I wrote a book and acquired an agent who was unable to sell my book.

    She said, “If you'd written this ten years ago, it would be on the shelves already. But publishing is completely different now.”


    My kids are, too.


    No regrets.
    (okay. maybe just a tiny one.)


  10. Maurice Sendak was a gifted man, and perhaps he was happy as he was – a man without children. Perhaps his writings helped him to connect with and interact with children, in a way he was able to enjoy throughout his life. And you are you, and despite the bone-weary craziness inherent in all child-rearing, at some point or other, there is also great poetry, great prose, and great humor to be found, if you are looking for it. And if, like you, JoAnn, you also happen to be a gifted writer, then you bring those things to life with your words. So here's to Maurice – he was happy and content in his life. And here's to you and your beautiful children, who make you crazy and fill you to the brim with life which overflows into this place and beyond.


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