Posted by: jeannineatkins | January 1, 2009

Flow and Worry

Over the holidays, my sweet brother-in-law asked about the book of verse I have coming out – ah, now I get to say –next year. Then he askd, “Do you feel you’ve found your voice now?” The question startled me. I hear about voices and finding them, but it’s never something I’ve consciously pursued. I focus on a subject until the right form comes. Verse seemed like the best way to show the echoes and contrasts in six lives, between two covers. I loved its intimacy and intensity. I’d do it again, and I started another book with verse. But it’s swerving into more prose. We’ll see where it goes. Writing seems more about the looking than the finding.

I can be somewhat open in this writing process, but my wanting to control goes into overdrive as a mom of a young woman off in the world. I loved eighteen years of having her home. Well, I mean there were some days I might have skipped, especially after the day she got her driver’s license, that day she so celebrated. But now she’s making her home somewhere else, making her own choices, most of them good, and I need to not just fake it but do that letting go thing.

I’ll get practice in trying to know Em more as a sweet companion, not just as the girl I vowed to protect like a bear, as I go with her and a friend to Rome on Saturday for a long anticipated trip. Maybe I’ll learn from the Italians – in five days, why not? – and get all shoulder shrugging, finger snapping, wine pouring, and able to focus on the art and beauty around us. So is that my resolution, to become more self-actualized, more Italian? At least I’m going to try not to be a fool obsessed with what might go wrong and enjoy the trip. I’m a mom being allowed to tag along, and I’m grateful, even if much of my worth is as photographer, to document their gorgeousness for their Facebooks.

Happy new year to you all! It’s been inspiring to read such great New Year’s posts.



  1. Wow – that question is quite a stopper, isn’t it? And how marvelous that he knows enough about writing and cares enough about you to have asked it.
    Have HUGE fun in Italia. I love Italy with a big, fat love, having spent about 5 weeks there one summer during law school (summer courses abroad). I spent only 3 days in Rome, but really adored it. Be sure to visit the Trevi fountain and throw your coin over your shoulder, so you guarantee a someday return!

  2. Did you just say, “Rome?” so casually, like Rome is around the corner? Wow!! How totally fabulous!! Have a wonderful trip; enjoy the pointed shoes, hairy chests with gold chains, whistles and teeth clicking, the cuisine, and of course, the joie de vivre that’s omnipresent in European culture. Talk about Happy New Year!

  3. I’m lucky in my relatives — my husband was one of four children, all with creative streaks, and all encouraged: his parents made sure they all got through college, though they had not. So Bruce understands voice, color, poetry, etc.
    And yes, Trevi fountain is high on the girls’ list! They’ve studied Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday.

  4. I know, sounds casual, though it’s been two years in the wanting-planning, and now I’m in that pre-flight sort of worry stage. But your reply helps! Sounds like a lot to enjoy and I know the girls will be laughing like mad at most of this.

  5. Happy New Year! What a fabulous place to celebrate. Have a wonderful trip. Soak up some of that Italian sun for me! Keep in mind that the food is good EVERYWHERE – even at the rest stops on the autostrada. Take it from your Italian friend… you’ll love it. Take lots of photos!

  6. Have a wonderful trip! Have you read the Italy portion of Eat,Pray, Love–it was my favorite section: the Eat part! Don’t forget to add pasta and pastries to the art and beauty! How fantastic that they want you along!
    I wonder how the trip will affect your writing. 🙂 Happy NY!

  7. “Writing seems more about the looking than the finding.”
    Oh that is so very true!
    Happy New Year to you, Jeannine. Thanks for all the thoughtful posts you’ve shared in 2008. I’m looking forward to more.

  8. Va bene!
    What a great thing to do. I know you’ll have a good time and there will be adventures to share and share again in the retelling
    Letting go is weird, especially because sometimes they do still want your help and advice.

  9. Well there’s been a lot of Italian rain, but hopefully we’ll see some sun! And the girls might have me doing little but taking photos — the trick will be to get copies off Em’s camera!

  10. I’d forgotten about that book — and yes, vaguely remember those chapters when she gained thirty pounds or something? We will definitely be eating. My brother in law, mentioned above, went fifteen years ago and said, “I’ve never eaten better — except when you cook,” he added, sweet guy.
    We’ll see if five days changes my writing. A little looser, that would be good!
    Happy new year!

  11. Thank you sweet Susan. I’m glad for the opening re your work, and hope great things for you in 2009!

  12. Thanks for commenting, Kathy. I’ve been thinking of you.
    Yes, letting go is most complicated — you can cook dinner, and maybe it gets eaten, maybe not. But it’s there. (and I’ll eat).
    Best wishes for your new year.

  13. You’ll always protect Em like a mother bear, because that’s part and parcel of who you are. But its wonderful, isn’t it, that you’ve also become traveling partners? In so many ways, this is an important passage for both of you. SOo…how fabulous, that you’ll mark its arrival with a visit to Rome!!!
    I can’t wait to hear all about it…Snap a few photos for us, too, would you please? xo

  14. I’ve been folding your words into my heart. You’ve articulate my goals exactly. It is quite a moment, our first trip to Europe. Thanks!

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