It is Sunday morning and I am still meandering through Big Magic, a book that is counseling me not to take this creative life thing so seriously. And because most days I have the mind of a squirrel, I pick up another book I started about writing, Story Genius, by Lisa Cron which promises to deliver the magic formula of writing a “riveting” novel. Though I’ve only waded in as far as the first chapters, I’m struck with an idea to rewrite the beginning of my memoir. But the thoughts running through my head are harder to nail down than the ones I imagined writing. Something about that time my mother ran over the family dog.

Meanwhile I’m on my second coffee and need to go to the bathroom and descending the circular stairs of the loft where I read and write to the bedroom where my husband is likely still asleep presents a challenge. Can I get in and out without waking him up? Because if I can’t, the writing day is surely lost. I’ll never make it back upstairs today.

We’ll sit with the newspaper over (another!) coffee, get ready for church, and it will be noon by the time we’re home and then I’ll start to think about the family dinner later, do something with the pile of clothes that have landed in front of the hamper and get ready for the week ahead.

I know, technically it’s Mother’s Day, the mundanities of domestic life should fall away as I languish in a bubble bath sipping a cup of tea, the pages of an engrossing novel getting damp under my fingers. A nap, in this other life, might follow, with fairies (or my family) doing the dusting and vacuuming and dishwashing and ironing. This is not how life works for most of us.

I’m about to re-enter ordinary life, an assuredely very good place to be. I’ll be back here tomorrow, trying to nail down those elusive words and ideas.



Much Ado

This isn’t The Bard’s creative life

In writing, I often find I’m the one getting in my own way. Letting days go by without writing much more than a grocery list and then berating myself about my own self importance, that someone would actually miss the words I didn’t write. But the point of writing, at least for me, is not to hit the publish button but to feel a sense of self accomplishment about lining up a few words in a way that makes sense of what I’m feeling.

I’m in the third part of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear, a section titled Permission. It’s my third or fourth read through of a book that can always reignite my passion about writing when it starts lagging or falling apart as it has been lately. Here is the sentence I needed to read this morning…

Keep in mind that for most of history people just made things, and they didn’t make such a big freaking deal of it.

This gives me permission to simply write, spill out my thoughts, get them down for a first draft that no one will ever have to see. I don’t have to spend thirty minutes on the right word for bravery when bravery is exactly the word to use. I don’t need to freak out that someone’s going to know all my secrets when and if they read this thing. I won’t suddenly combust if that happens. Another thing I don’t need to do because no one is strapping me to my desk, is to write. I’m doing it because I want to do it.

So keep at the writing, even and especially if you’ve fallen off for a few days, weeks or months. You know there’s something inside you that wants, needs, you to keep doing this mystical thing. There is something about it that satisfies and soothes or you wouldn’t feel called to do it. Right?

Nope, nothing to see here. Just doing a little writing. No big freaking deal.