Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Lives on Swings?

What lives on swings? A short plank of wood. Or a plastic seat, graffitied. Two lengths of chain or well-knotted rope, and the familiar ee-ore of protesting joints above. Unremarkable. But there they are. Swings. Most parks have a least one set and they are never short of sitters waiting their turn to swing their legs.
Funny that something so simple should be home to such magic...

Childhood lives on swings.
Imagination. Pure and unbridled. Go on, tell me you were never Superman or Wonder Woman. Tell me you never joined the birds that flew above you or captained a rocket ship to the moon. Sometimes I was just the princess with flying hair. Golden hair. Admired and loved.
In my mind I was lots of things and many people, and all of them saved me from the ground, from the falling of my life.

Freedom lives on swings.
Movement. Lullaby rocking. Back and forth, back and forth. I was never stuck, even if I was going nowhere. In my mind I was lots of places, all them involved motion, and all of them saved me from the ground and from the monotony of gravity.

Music lives on swings.
Emotions. Things that I felt and could give voice too. Even if it was off key and never heard by any ears but my own. I sang on the swing set in my back yard and I loved the feeling. I was brave enough to be heard when the wind was rushing past my cheeks and the motion never stopped. I sang anything and everything. Partial lyrics. Nursery rhymes. And Sunday School songs. But my favourites were the ones I made up. Music that told its own story. Songs my heart beat to, and gave my soul eyes.
In my mind I was singing straight to my God, to my little sister to my hopes and dreams, and all of them saved me from the ground and the silence of not being seen.

Swings are simple things. But sometimes life just needs a bit of simple swinging.

Now I am grown, I still love swings. I beg my children to whoosh to and fro with me, so I don't look like the woman who should have stopped swinging a long time ago. I huddle my toddler on my lap and, once again, I am Superwoman.

My writing desk is just the same. A swing set for my mind. A plank of wood. White with four legs. Nothing auspicious. Simple. I share it with my kids. The computer pushed to one side the glue stick, crayons, remote control for the robot, paper like confetti in every colour and size and the odd toy car or alien character staring back at me while I type. At night, I don't clean away every sign of my children. I let these things sit around me. This is my playground. And I remember the swings.

Childhood. Freedom. Movement. And music. When my writing looks like that I know my work as a writer is done. And today I noticed, my desk is not in the middle of this room... and neither is my writing.

Stephen King said it best.
"It starts like this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down to write remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support system for art. It is the other way around."

When I live outside the writing, the writing lives.
Swings. And swinging for the mind...

What about you? Where do you write? Is your desk a swing set, nice and simple? Yet magic without confines? What does where you write say about your writing or who you are as a writer?
Do you remember how to swing?

PS- sorry I was not on many blogs yesterday. I had a mad day and lost all time... I'll be there today. I missed reading you guys :)


  1. What lives on swings? I thought this would be a horror story type of post. The lonely swing moving, screeching away in the night, with no one sitting on it ...

  2. Cool post, especially since I took the kids to the park yesterday. I got on the swing and whoosh, I was off! I couldn't believe how the laughter ripped out of me. LOL For a second I remembered how it felt as a kid. It's hard to feel that again though. On one hand I was feeling great but on the other I was aware of feeling great, which is different. As a kid, I wasn't aware of myself having fun, I just did.

    I don't know what my writing space says about me. I sit on the couch with my laptop. :-)

  3. Wow, that brought back memories. My neighbour often swings with her son, but I have swings in my backyard too, but they never seem to get used anymore. Sad!

    I write wherever lately, so I guess I am kind of like a swing in the movement area.

  4. Tabitha, I was just swinging last night. My three year old, perched in my lap, our legs both swaying to and fro. Our heads anchored back to watch the black birds circling through the clouds.

    It was the most fun.

    I hadn't thought of my writing desk as a swing, but I love the idea.

  5. So true. I was hanging out on the playground with my boyfriend's daughter not long ago and it amazed me how quickly I grew sick on the swing. I could handle it for hours as a kid! And then we got on the seesaw. HORRIBLE. My thighs were dying within 10 minutes. Of course, she weighs 70 pounds and I weigh...well, we won't say how much. So I was having to do a whole lot of work to get her to the ground.

  6. How fitting, I write in our playroom. I love the connection between writing being like swinging for the mind. I still enjoy physically swinging as well. Our playset is for 12 and under, but I sit my over 12-year-old self down and have a go from time to time.
    ~ Wendy

  7. I love to swing, as well! What a wonderful feeling to fly and be free like a child. What a great image that put in my head.

    Thanks, Tabitha, for leaving such an awesome comment on my blog this morning. It really got me thinking deeper about the subject!

  8. My son is 36, so it's been a long time since I've been on a swing. I love the description of your writing space. Mine is a recliner in my living room, laptop on my lap, dog on the ottoman next to me. I can see outside my kitchen window from where I sit and the leaves in the park behind our house are just starting to change color. The chair is in a corner of the room. Guess that's good, according to King.

  9. Right now my desk is a disaster. I'm not sure what that says about my writing, but it's telling me that I need to spend a little time getting organized.

  10. Yep, I have a desk in the corner, but fun stuff happens here. I love the swing analogy.

  11. I write where I can. No place special. Lately none at all, I'm in that just finished and need to wait to revise again mode.

    Swings. Loved them. After I had kids they made me sea sick. It is one of the saddest things.

  12. I haven't really been able to swing since my second pregnancy 20 years ago! I get sick to my stomach. Can you believe it? What a travesty. Pregnancy took more than my breasts. Can't eat soda crackers anymore either.

  13. Lovely writing, powerful analogy - as always. Swinging for me is flying, which is exactly what writing feels like when I'm in that zone.

  14. What a beautiful analogy! I need to remember that my writing desk is my playground, to swing, slide, dig, climb, and explore.

  15. What a wonderful post. Funny you should write about swings. Around here, they're removing them from playgrounds, deeming them too dangerous. Can you believe that? I just found this out. We took my grandson to the playground and I was lamenting about how there were no swings, (his favorite naturally), and a lady said, "Of course they don't have swings, they're too dangerous!" Then she proceeded to tell me that most new playgrounds won't have them. Pretty soon, kids won't have ice cream cones to eat (too fattening), or bikes (they could fall) and we probably should ban them from even being near any bodies of water. Okay, I'll shut up now.

  16. I've been seeing your blue butterfly popping up all around so I though I'd come and say "hi"...hi love your blog, please stop by sometime.

    much love

  17. Haven't been on a swing in years and quite frankly the darn thing would probably fall to the ground with my big bum on it! However, this was a most interesting post and I was intrigued by your mental illustrations then comparing them to your writing area. Yeah, I guess this is our adult swing. Our playground for imagination so to speak.

  18. I love the way you think! I usually write on my bed, with my curtains drawn so I can see outside.

    Anytime I think about swings, I think about that episode of Friends where Rachel is terrified of swings and getting her hair caught in one. I think I like your version better :)

  19. As an adult, I still have swings - we have a swing on our back deck and we have a hammock out front.

    Sometimes what I do at my desk is fun like a swing. Sometimes it's work.

    Straight From Hel

  20. My friend and I used to love swings too. Indeed, I think Superman came by some afternoons.

    I write mostly on the train. I try to catch pieces of the world as they pass by.

  21. Great post brought back great memories. So much imagination and creativity occured when I was swinging to the clouds. It never seemed like work. That is why I loved yhour swing to desk analogy. Well written, Tabitha.

  22. Memories live on swings. :0)

    Right now I write in the floor on my room. But I hope to have a writing corner, nook, or room one day in the future. That's a HUGE dream of mine!

  23. The swing on the big oak tree! ohh the memories! Thanks Tabitha... you had to go there, Carefree was many years ago. :)
    My desk is nothing spectacular right now... in the process of getting a new one. Just haven't found THE one yet. Nice post!

  24. I LOVE the swings! I played on them just the other day. I still like to jump off too. :)

    I write everywhere. At my desk, on my bed, on the floor, in the kitchen. That's the advantage of a laptop. :)

  25. My writing space says I'm a mommy. I have my laptop on a tv tray next to the couch in my living room, which is strewn with my son's toys most days.

  26. Thank you all for the comments. Sorry I have not been here to check. It was lovely coming home from boxing tonight to read all your feedback. Please forgive my slackness on your blogs... I will be back to commenting post haste :))

  27. Oh how I love this post! I was completely swing-obsessed as a child . . . and I love how you connect it to writing.

  28. Tabitha, your writing is exquisite. I feel so connected. Thought it was only fitting I comment since I am a girl on a swing. And a mum, and a writer and a Kindergarten teacher. Did I read some where that you're a teacher too?