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Capturing life in words…

Stringing the Pearls

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I love sitting down with nature and my laptop or pen. The process of writing is meaningful for me. Stringing the pearls together making a sentence… desiring a sentence so clear, and perceptible, the reader will unknowingly gasp a little. Just a little gasp is fine– enough to reveal the reader is deeply absorbed and invested in the story slowly unfolding.

Writing is sacred. And I sadly set it firmly out of the way on a mental shelf to gather dust. Cobwebs grew as I parented my beloved children, went to college and worked. I believe we all have the sacred secret passion which sits passively as we do what life demands. For years, my longing to write lay awaiting my attention.

My passion was pushed away as I clocked hundreds of hours producing pieces of a different genetic code. And produced them quite well. I am the not-so-proud creator of many “A” academic papers– very dry and littered with citation upon citation. My college years molded and formed me into the “social work theory”– my dynamic personality formerly woven through my writing, was swept away with mandatory Codes and Ethics. “I” was no more. My writing had become a thoughtful application of someone else’s theory– very necessary for the goal desired. (Graduate school needs to know: Can Linda perform Master’s level care to clients?). image

I obtained the University and Licensing board’s approval, and with my degree newly framed on the wall and LSW (license to practice); I jumped into the field of geriatric social work and hospice care. The stories I was privy to were wonderful, interesting and unique.

I once had a client, over 100 hundred years, who lived in three centuries. Her eyes were brilliantly blue, with a subtle cataract hue. Yet her wits were intact, only her hearing were an issue. Oh, the colorful stories she shared brought the magic of pre-industrialized America right into her room. For a bit and a minute, I was delighted with my job and clients who were always happy to see me– because I listened.

My clients, by America’s standards, were of decreased value — I mean, what good is a retiree who is no longer producing? Ouch! Determined, my passion for writing, flew off the mental shelf displacing dust bunnies — as tattered and torn as the bodies housing the weathered, wise souls of my clients. So I’d document the psycho-social and added interesting tidbits of their lives. With each story chuckled through voices long forgotten, so came alive and flowing my passion to write. What a great match– the clients and I came alive…

Wrong.

Even Hospice companies do not want to know about the wonderful events tucked away in the mind of someone almost 111. I was continually chastised for “Too much story-telling, Linda. Keep it to the mental status, psych meds and such… and while you are at it, can you shorten your visit? I mean, does it really take an hour to assess them?!”

Sigh. Social work was not as social as I expected. It was reduced to forms. Lifetimes went undocumented and replaced with “mental status: alert and oriented”. Stories remained untold as my visits were shortened. I didn’t hear them very often to even share with the aging client’s family. The mighty dollar demands efficient care. My extra TLC of time and attention- oh boy! I was told, “It’s just not possible… you compromise the profit margin.” Sigh.

So my budding writing skills were lassoed, for the sake of efficiency. Thankfully I had some sense knocked into me when a car accident removed me from the job force, and then when it released me… well, the BSW, MSW, LSW still hangs on my wall. And it gathers dust as my writing begins once again. I call it a Sabbatical, as I am finding my voice. I am yanking it out from under the repetitive booming of “stay to psycho-social theory and evidenced-based practice,” by my clinical supervisors, and employers.

I chuckle as I look back over my shoulder. I did drive them bonkers initially in my reports. My usage of stimulating language to convey concepts put them over the edge. However, my passionate-writer side could not compute: What? Chastised for capturing the whole person of which the “mental status”, nested? Hmm…. Guess I don’t want to be a social worker after all.

I understand fully in academia and business, you must keep it succinct, short and brief. No room for unnecessary descriptions or sharing of thoughts swimming between the ears of “The Client”. No nonsense kind of writing. So I conformed in order to make a living… for a while.

For now I am set free. And finally, begin to be me.

I am not lost in fantasy– one of the many advantages to growing up later, than sooner. I know a few writers and realize there is a hellish veil between the artist and publisher.

So far, not having developed the skill to submit writing professionally, I remain blissfully ignorant to the drama and injustice real writers are subjected to– for now. My audience is usually my boyfriend or brother, Charles. I do have bragging rights of one non-relative positive review of a short essay by my mailman. So I am still in the giddy, adolescent phase of it all. that. My personality will desire more and I too will hope for the stars…

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I want to languish my current locale of being head-over-heels in love with the process itself. Not fretting yet over the fiscal issue. I feel the tapping — the harsh reality. Tapping, knocking and complaining at the door like the poet’s raven, “You are not making any money with this hobby–grown–into–passion.” SSShhhh!

For now, I lovingly labor at times over the perfect sentence, as I am married to the concept which has been patiently sitting within my soul. Patiently sitting on my mental shelf. Getting dusty and tattered by life’s doubts — “you can’t write,” or “why are you pressing these keys for no one but the mail man?”, “You thought social workers were broke, now you’re putting on the writer’s cap?” Yes, my other me is beginning to knock.

And the fun factor will disappear. Sigh. Yeah.

Good thing I am living in the moment! So pardon me, while I make some tea …
and write for my brother, lover and mailman… and now, you.

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3 comments on “Stringing the Pearls

  1. reinventionofmama
    August 30, 2013

    This is my life, except we need to switch out social work for project management! Booooring! Feeling like I’m wasting away here in order to make a living. My dream is to write. My story is stalled at 26k words because I can’t quite make myself give up on sleep to fill in the blanks. I hope I can finish it before the year is out. I’m with you. Dust off the keyboard, clean up the tea cup (or wine glass!) and celebrate what’s in our hearts. Best wishes to you!

    • Linda-Marie McCormick
      August 30, 2013

      Well, at least I proved to myself I can get a college degree while parenting single-handedly 3 children… but now that I have shown I can “do crazy”, I want to enjoy life and write 🙂

      I wish you the best too in your new journey!! Nice to have a fellow newbie 🙂

  2. Linda-Marie McCormick
    August 30, 2013

    It’s so very true…
    Reigning the passion in and sitting at a desk, writing in forms– I jokingly called it “data entry”. I was not writing about the person, but choosing a pre-determined number or label: Alert and oriented x 3; Dressed appropriately; hygiene appropriate; history of sexual assault; custodial parent of 2; non-smoker; blah-blah-blah-blah.

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This entry was posted on August 30, 2013 by in Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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