Empty hours stretch endless before me. Pristine, untouched, free of appointments, interruptions, demands.
Ahh… an entire day devoted to writing…
Daybreak streams through windows facing east along the front of our house. And a rainbow of light arches across the sofa. Every morning this prism hovers for a brief few moments as inlaid glass on the entry door catches rays of sunshine at just the right angle.
Sometimes I just happen to be there to see it.
This is what Heaven must look like.
And when I see it, I sit. Still. Watching, savoring. Barely breathing. Soaking up the beauty before it’s gone.
Once it disappears, I’m back to work, reading my favorite blogs and catching up with emails while breakfast-ing. (On dry toast and weak tea. I’m a starving writer, remember?)
I swallow vitamins, rinse a few dishes, brush teeth, change into sweats, chase the turkeys away from cat food left on the porch, make the bed, fill water jugs from the filter and refill the filter, throw a load of clothes or towels in the washer…
While completing mindless tasks my thoughts drift to form silken strands of impressions, translated into words. And those same words weave themselves into pictures, poetic images of emotion and experience, of the elusive and mysterious essence of this journey through life.
I make a few phone calls, straighten slipcovers, and take care of whatever other details need to be done before settling in with my growing pile of research materials and my laptop.
Ahh… this entire day is all mine—to spend writing.
I shuffle through my latest notes on whatever topic or incident caught my attention on previous days, while away from my desk. Reading over the words inspiration is renewed, and I start typing.
On some days my thoughts flow. And the process is as beautiful as the result. I am addicted to words and to weaving words and to painting with words, to using words to communicate truth and ideas, feelings and ideals…
Realizing lately, I now suffer the same symptoms as any addict:
Normal daily life is unappealing;
it’s getting harder to focus on tasks;
my sleep pattern is disturbed due to losing all track of time;
food has little taste;
favorite activities have lost their pleasure;
I don’t care as much what the house looks like or if my clothes match or if my hair is combed;
and I’ll deprive myself of creativity in other pastimes—just for one more hour of wielding words.
Because I am addicted to writing.
I am absolutely obsessed with the intertwining of expressions and the defining of terms.
Writing is a fluid process created by writers as they work. Accomplished writers move back and forth between the stages of the process, both consciously and unconsciously. – A. Gardner and D. Johnson
Fluid, yes. The motion of a lazy river, molten lava, an eagle soaring high overhead on invisible pathways of air…
This astounding, exhilarating process of writing has drawn me into her clutches, so much so, I am captive to the thrill I get when she flows unhindered through my veins.
Except on the days when it’s plain, hard work.
Too many times, somewhere between my mind’s eye and my fingers, at that invisible point between paper and keyboard, I lose any knowing, all innate creativity. Unintentional is this shedding of intelligence and ability to mold and shape language.
Smooth strokes are replaced by tromping and sloshing through muddled thoughts.
And the hours slip by with little to show for my efforts.
Where did the time go?! Another day, gone, wasted!
How is it this capacity switches from gliding to the most arduous trudging in an instant? Where does beautiful artistry morph into labored digging, as if tunneling through granite? If I am gifted in the slightest way, why is it so confounded hard?!
The minutes dissipate, never to be retrieved again. And another sunset reminds me of this awful, unexpected, unwelcome agony of writing.
Or perhaps I’ve become lazy? Mistaking determination to show up in the same spot every morning, whether it appears productive or not, as perseverance?
Am I fooling myself into believing I can do this?
I’ve read the experts. I continue to read the experts, their articles, their instructions and tips and posts.
And I’ve stopped using so many adverbs.
While I write.
I have my own column. I listen to my editor. And read the columnists he reads most.
And everyday I write.
I attend writers’ workshops and writers’ retreats. Joined a writers group. Teach a writing class.
And I write some more. Correct my students’ writing. Edit others’ writing.
I read and analyze best-sellers. Fold laundry while watching a movie, to acquaint myself on a most intimate level with the structure of dramatic storyline. (See? I told you I paid attention.)
Take notes in public while listening to everyday conversations. With pen and paper in hand.
I follow writers’ blogs. Learn about dialogue that engages, and making my characters suffer, and showing rather than telling. And alright already, I get it. The first five pages that grab the reader’s attention. Count them—one, two, three, four, five. That’s all. Use ‘em or lose ‘em.
So here I sit, ever writing. And rewriting. And yes, re-re-rewriting.
I invite comments from my writer friends. (*swallowing*) I welcome the criticism as well as the praise. No lying, no crying, the New York author told me.
And while sneaking a tissue with the utmost discretion, I erase. And write some more.
When it’s easy. When it’s not easy.
When it’s so hard it’s maddening.
When I feel like screaming. And I want to throw something.
When it’s way past my bedtime and my eyelids droop in rebellion.
When I’m tempted to apply for a job as bagger at the local market.
I write. write, write. With a little sleep and a couple meals in between. And only leaving or cleaning the house when absolutely necessary.
The girl who comes to clean periodically makes more money an hour than I do. Just thought I’d throw that out there…
Do I care? Uh, yeah… like maybe her company is hiring? And I should get a real job to pay these bills and help my girl through college?
But will I get an application?
Uh, that would be a No.
Because I’m a writer. And writing is what I do. Because writing is what I love.