Three’s Company

How does one bounce back?

A perfectionist prolongs her reentry, waiting for the perfect post, story, sentiment; making her grand reentry so untenably grand, it may never happen.  Or be such a tremendous let-down, it truly disappoints.

A dweller in the present seizes the few minutes’ pocket of silence to write like her life depends upon it; easing back into life with the monotony of a moment, a microcosm of her world, the gentle ebb and flow of everyday.

If the procrastinator gets a hold of either of these two, nothing will ever be written again.  Too many of the dweller’s moments will pass, needing explanation, analysis.  Explanation and analysis swoop in upon the perfectionist like the ugly albatross.

As the sun warms my legs and slowly melts the snow outside, I sit at the center of a circle drawn by these three.

At the Intersection of Love and Passion

If a human being closes her eyes hard enough and for long enough, she can remember pretty well everything that has made her happy.  The fragrance of her mother’s skin at the age of five and how they fled giggling into a porch to get out of a sudden downpour.  The cold tip of her father’s nose against her cheek.  The consolation of the rough part of a soft toy that she has refused to let them wash.  The sound of waves stealing in over rocks during their last seaside holiday.  Applause in a theater.  Her sister’s hair, afterwards, carelessly waving in the breeze as they’re walking down the street.

And apart from that?  When has she been happy?  A few moments.  The jangling of keys in the door.  The beating of Kent’s heart against the palms of her hands while he lay sleeping.  Children’s laughter.  The feel of the wind on her balcony.  Fragrant tulips.  True love.

The first kiss.

A few moments.  A human being, any human being at all, has so perishingly few chances to stay right there, to let go of time and fall into the moment.  And to love someone without measure.  Explode with passion.

A few times when we are children, maybe, for those of us who are allowed to be.  But after that, how many breaths are we allowed to take beyond the confines of ourselves?  How many pure emotions make us cheer out loud, without a sense of shame?  How many chances do we get to be blessed by amnesia?

All passion is childish.  It’s banal and naive.  It’s nothing we learn; it’s instinctive, and so it overwhelms us.  Overturns us.  It bears us away in a flood.  All other emotions belong to the earth, but passions inhabits the universe.

That is the reason why passion is worth something, not for what it gives us but for what it demands that we risk.  Our dignity.  The puzzlement of others and their condescending, shaking heads.

 

from Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Driving Blind But in the Moment

[Writing is] like driving a car at night: you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
– E.L. Doctorow

A few summers ago, I sat in a writing workshop with the inimitable Kelly Easton that unexpectedly turned into a therapy session – perhaps most unexpectedly for her.

We’d been given an exercise to write a scene from our work in progress from the point of view of a secondary character rather than our protagonist. I love Ant. He’s so fun to write. His humorous and outrageous comments flow from a place that’s cheesy and cathartic at the same time. So he was my target voice.

When I read back my piece to Kelly and the others for feedback, she said she loved the energy and spontaneity of the beginning, but that lessened as it went on. It was, she said, as if I didn’t trust his voice, myself; that rather than letting the story go where it would, I clicked on that control switch, molding the plot to the overall plan I had in mind. That I was afraid to relinquish control.

The critique hit me like a ton of bricks. Not because she was wrong. Not because I can’t take criticism (at least from a trusted source 😉 ). But because Kelly’s critique applied to my entire life – not just my work in progress.

How often do we follow some preordained plan rather than functioning within and through the essence of our being? How often do we tick off the to-dos to achieve a goal rather than burning and glowing with the initial desire for it? How often do we rein ourselves in rather than galloping exuberantly forward?

For what?

Unless we’re acting recklessly, we will not crash. There’s a fair distance between joy and mania. Why are we so afraid to inhabit our joy? Are we afraid to feel it in advance of our perceived loss of it?

What’s the worst that could have happened in my story? Anthony would’ve surprised me? Would’ve taken the plot in a new and exciting direction? The writer me could’ve certainly looped him back around to my original story – or marvelled at an even-better blossoming of the plot.

The same applies to life. Long ago, a wise friend reminded me that when your dreams haven’t come true or prayers answered, perhaps it is because God has something even better in store for you. We need not see further than our headlights illuminate. Stubborn human nature makes us want to, but it’s not necessary to survival and success – and certainly not to our happiness.

For the Love of Ove

“And when she took hold of his lower arm, thick as her thigh, and tickled him until that sulky boy’s face opened up in a smile, it was like a plaster cast cracking around a piece of jewelry, and when this happened it was as if something started singing inside Sonja. And they belonged only to her, those moments.”

   – from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Inspiration Vacation

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

                                                        ~ Pablo Picasso

Pablo frowned on me as I fell asleep on the couch beside my daughter watching Nick Jr. Strains of the Bubble Guppies floated in and out of my consciousness as I fought to open my eyes. It was not a restful sleep.

I’d already tended to the water needs of my newly transplanted shrubs and vegetable garden. We’d seen her two elder sisters off to the bus stop. I’d ordered groceries online. I’d done stuff. But I hadn’t made my cup of tea and parked my keister at the writing table.

Which makes me nervous for this summer.

Right now it’s only one kid; in a week and a half, it will be three.

How do I write when they’re all here? Or to distill it even further – how do I keep them busy to buy myself writing time?

Don’t want to plop them in front of TV – because I still have that whole ‘rotting their brains’ hang-up and they’ll most likely pinch and poke each other while they watch and I don’t want Donald and Daisy counting their Toodles options as a running soundtrack to my work.

I’d rather have them invested in a somewhat productive, independent venture – but what would that be? Or to distill it even further – what would actually stick and buy me a solid chunk of uninterrupted time?

Writer moms and dads – preach! Please!

I have a feeling it will take a little bit of neglect, ignoring, and nasty sugar-laden treats. Or a trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s. Only hot, sticky summer days will tell.

Write On

I am sitting at my desk for the first time in a long time. At least to sit and write. I’ve sat a few times to check email or Facebook, but haven’t sat here in a long time for its meaning and purpose.

As I sorted piles of dirty clothes by color in preparation for laundering last night, I saw the top of my writing cabinet rolled back just enough to reveal the rocks I’ve placed there as talismans. The ones chosen for memories: one thrown by a dear friend barely missing my head, one from a bright, beautiful day at the beach, others for their touch and feel. All within smelling distance of dirty laundry. All untouched, robbed of their potential for healing or inspiration.

During these last few cold months, I’ve set up camp by the wood stove. A stack of books on my daughter’s miniature rocking chair on one side, a stool with a mug of tea on the other, computer in lap, feet on ottoman, aimed at the stove. Not bad, I must say.

But – if I sat at my desk on my ergonomic chair, I might not exacerbate that crick in my neck. I might not strain the shoulders I tweaked in frenzied shoveling yesterday. I might not draw the ire of said daughter for thieving her miniature rocking chair. I might stick to the task at hand. And – AND – I might be inspired by the lovely things around me.

Since it’s been awhile, things other than my work have inevitably piled up on my desk. My daughter’s outgrown ducky slippers. A pair of fleece pajamas I’ve yet to exchange for the right size. My middle daughter’s class portrait grasped from her little sister’s tight fist at just the last second. There’s a colored pencil that doesn’t belong to me. A bathing suit I still haven’t decided if I want to return. There’s the goody bag from my friend’s burgeoning business of skin care products I’ve yet to put away – but this is a lovely procrastination; for the smell of sea foam has provided the most uplifting aromatherapy.

While putting off and getting away from routines or rituals can be detrimental, it can also give the chance to come back with new eyes. Had I sat here every writing session, every week of every month, perhaps I wouldn’t appreciate the little corner I’ve carved out for myself. Perhaps I wouldn’t remember to hold that solid hunk of earth in my hand, wrap my fingers around but one chunk of the infinite space around us.

Does that mean I will sit here each time I write now and be incredibly prolific? Probably not. But the space is readied. For now, the mind is readied. My spirit is ready.

2014 in review

Thanks to Wordpress for this informative and humbling report on the chopping of potatoes this year.  There is work to be done – but only on my part.  You, dear readers, have always been the bomb!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,400 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

If you were ever on the fence concerning the power of books and stories . . .

So thankful others feel the same way as I – and share such lovely videos with me!

Just What I Needed

This article offers sound encouragement for anyone working toward certain goals.  It particularly spoke to my recent musings on writing.  Thank you to the intuitive soul – who can still intuit over the miles – who sent it to me.

Read – and write – on!

What I Do When it Feels Like My Work Isn’t Good Enough by James Clear

Amen

How long until the shine wears off? At what point does your blog stop being viable and become a chore? Or does it go through cycles, prone to the whims of your life just as you are?

I remember being upset, maybe even angry, when bloggers I loved decided to throw in the towel because posting and maintaining the blog was taking away from their real writing, their real life. Knowing full well it was what the bloggers needed at the time, I still selfishly didn’t want to let them go.

Then in a post I wrote two weeks ago, the last time I posted on a Thursday, I lamented the pull of personal writing vs. blog writing. That I was tapped out once I attended to one, with no inspiration left for the other. I could feel the burn. I understood the reasoning of those others I hadn’t wanted to take a hiatus.

Plus, with life being life – where the living of it gets in the way of, you know, living it – uninterrupted time to sit and think and create is at a premium. Usually I don’t get past ‘sit’ without wanting to close my eyes.

I know, lots of whining, when I could have been actually creating – and no, this is not my blosignation. I am nothing if not a stubborn mule. I have set my mind to a blog schedule and I will get back on it, come hell or high stress levels.

As always, it’s a matter of finding that sweet spot, that slice of solitude and peace – where words come easily and self-expression is crystal clear and empowering. Can I get an AMEN?

AMEN-300x211

%d bloggers like this: