Writing

Keep (Free) Writing

After months and months of daily writing on 750words.com, I abruptly stopped a week and a half ago. Blog ideas were coming to me and I was feeling inspired and thought my creative dryspell had gone bye bye. But it was more like that writing had helped me gain momentum and in order to keep it, I needed to keep going. An object in motion stays in motion, right? Stopping writing, the ideas began to dry up again.

So once again I’m free writing in the mornings but instead of slogging through what’s happening in my current life, I find that I’m drifting back in time, digging into old memories – some good and some not so good. In one of my AA meetings, we read a passage called Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and it’s all about staying in the day but for us writers, that’s a tough place to remain. We like to drift.

In anticipation of vacationing on Cape Cod (a place I’ve never been unless you count a rainy March weekend on Nantucket), I’ve been picking through the vacation memories of my young life when my parents would pack the station wagon with the seven of us, a tent and a mix of warm clothes and bathing suits for a week in Wells, Maine. I distinctly remember needing the warm clothes more than the bathing suits even though it was the middle of summer because the nights were very cool in this northern U.S. city. I don’t have memories of enjoying the beach but we must have.

That stream of consciousness led me to places and things I’d forgotten about as I remembered how we spent our free time on those trips. Cards, Yahtzee, truth or dare. I was the youngest of five at the time and probably no more than six with the oldest of my siblings between thirteen and fifteen so there was a wide range of experience for when someone chose truth. I did not have any secrets back then and what a nostalgic place to be. A time with no secrets, shame or regret.

So here we are, embarking on brand new memories, in a brand new place, something that doesn’t happen to me (us) often these days as quarantine has turned life upside down. What will I pack, what books will I bring and what will the car snacks be for this three plus hour ride to the Eastern seaboard? We’re leaving in a little over an hour so there’s no time to spare.

Keep writing.

Writing

Word by word

Writing a book is daunting. I’ve made a few stabs at it but the words don’t come in a way I feel satisfied with. I read other people’s work with longing. And regret. Regret that I can’t pull together a plot or even sentences the way other people can and even though I know it’s not easy for them either (I’m subscribed to the hashtag WritingCommunity on Twitter), I feel like they were gifted with some sort of innate talent that I wasn’t. Maybe it is my lot in life to be just a reader. No, I want to be one of those people where words pour out, a flow of ideas – the story, the magical sentences. I hear these people exist.

I have been writing every day. OK, so it’s pretty much nonsensical words thrown on the page describing the most mundane life moments which are pretty much the same from day to day. This is not “real” writing but for some reason, I can’t get beyond this and promise myself tomorrow will be different. I love when Ann Lamott says to just sit your butt in a chair and write and as I open a new document the words that come to me are bird by bird. However, I don’t have even one bird.

On Monday I forgot to even write. I carry guilt about not writing with me through every day and Monday was the first day in months that I didn’t feel anxious for not having written by the end of the day. Either part of me forgot I hadn’t written or the writer in me shut itself off. Powered down. Unplugged itself. But then when I sat down to write on Tuesday, I saw the gap in days between Sunday and Tuesday and still let myself off the hook from writing for one more day. I was too damn tired and now I have a two day gap.

But I pick up where I left off and write the nonsense from two lost days. And just as I come to the end of my allotted 750 words and as I’m about to get ready for work, a germ of an idea comes. I tag a few sentences at the end of my daily drivel so I have an idea where I left off. But now I have to go and hope for the best for later. Or tomorrow.

Writing

Routine changes

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From the time my dad came for a visit, and maybe even before that, I let go of my daily routines. No more prayer, meditation, affirmations and my writing was no longer anchored to the morning. The primary reason for this (or so I tell myself) was to give my dad as much attention as possible and since he was an early riser, I wanted to sit and have coffee with him and listen to what he had to say. It’s easy to get out of routines and harder to reclaim them. The one thing I didn’t let go of was daily writing which wasn’t always easy but using the website 750words.com was like a having an invisible bull whip to get me to sit down before the end of the day and empty my brain on the page. It’s five dollars a month for the service and even though it’s a small amount compared to say a gym membership (which I was less devoted to even in the best of times) it was enough of an incentive to keep me coming back and the daily streak tally was a boon as I watched it climb each day.

With my dad now gone to rehab for a fall he took here, my mornings are suddenly, sadly free but the routines have not been recouped. Why is it so hard to do the things you know are good for you? One thing I’ve promised myself is to reclaim my voice and this blog because even if no one reads my words, I can feel like I’m making progress toward a writing goal at the very least. My daily writing is consumed by the minutia of the day and I want more for myself than that. What we had for dinner, the chores I completed, the books I was reading. Sometimes I use superfulous words and break every writing rule just to get to 750 words each day because I’ve left it until it’s nearing the end of the day and I just about have the 20 minutes left until midnight to get it in.

But starting now, I am here. I am back to writing in public and I hope to see you more often in the future.

MC

Writing

Writing Routine

 

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Creativity is not something I associate with the word routine although I do love a good routine. Each morning I wake, say the rosary, meditate, write affirmations and then sit down to write. But first coffee. I don’t have a particular routine around my writing, though, but I’m starting to build one. First, the morning pages. I was writing them by hand for a long time, filling up notebook upon notebook but a couple of things happen when writing at length with a pen. I grip it hard and the nail of my ring finger digs into the palm of my hand leaving a throbbing indent. Also my hand goes a bit numb after a while. And then I discovered 750words.com and I moved my morning pages online, which is cheating, I know, but better than nothing. It also makes my writing searchable which is great.

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Writing

Holding onto Fall

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Ambling through a breezy park, the day is brisk
and nearly empty of others like you,
hoping to catch Fall by her tail, to keep her a bit longer.

The colors have faded or dropped to the ground
allowing sunshine into the thick wooded part of the path,
as though nature were opening herself to you.

Further along, the geese are taking in their last moments
at the foot of the man-made pond,
a last bite before they move along to destinations south.

 

Who will be left in a month when the temperatures
fall further and the fish sink to the bottom of the pond
where they’ll wait out the long winter, dreams of children with their crumbs of bread?

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MC

Writing

Surviving a week without books or media

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My week of reading deprivation ended on Tuesday night and while parts of it didn’t seem so bad (staying off social media for the week), there were other things that were so so hard, particularly when it came to no reading. The ban which is part of Week 4 of The Artist’s Way, a 12 week course in finding your higher creativity, included not only reading but television, YouTube, podcasts, visiting web sites, Netflix, movies – virtually anything that included being exposed to someone else’s ideas. I was able to listen to music, although I kept that to instrumental pieces and it was truly a godsend.

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Writing

A Reading Challenge

 

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Can you go a week without reading? Anything? Books, blogs, social media, newspapers, online content, cereal boxes. If you are anything like me (and I suspect you are due to reading this blog post) going a week without ingesting other people’s words sounds like a hellish kind of existence. From the time I could read, which was second grade back in the day, I have never gone any length of time without reading something. And yes, I was a big consumer of the words written on cereal boxes in my younger years because what else would you do over breakfast?

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Writing

Refooting

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Parenting is hard work,
so they say.
Holding a sleeping baby. Easy. Beautiful.
But the years unfold at a pace
too fast and I can’t keep up.

The boy is hungrier for
independence with each new year.
Our silly chats lose their rhythm
and my joyful morning boy disappears with
the moon.

Mornings have sharper edges now
and I’m made to grow a thicker skin.
The car rides, silent, as
I adjust to you and the new tempo
of our days.

But there are glimpses still, of this boy.
Funny, smart and kind.
Parenting is hard work,
they do say.
I am learning from it, though.

 

Writing

Listening to Creative Inspiration

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“Are you a witch?” This was the question posed five minutes into the first of one of my many internet organized blind dates. Without much of a pause I answered, yes, thinking my sense of humor was being vetted by the bespectacled man across from me. I laughed nervously before noting his face was serious. “Wow, you’re a Wiccan!” he exclaimed. What the hell is a Wiccan? The year was 1997 and I was barely into my 30’s, still very much the naive girl who grew up in rural small town America. Internet dating was in its infancy, a veritable wild, wild west of electronic relationship interaction.

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Writing

Friday Flashback: A short saga about about a very bad day

A father, not mine, dying at 2 a.m., his children surround his hospital bed and he makes it through the night. At work I am tired and hungry, fasting bloodwork for an afternoon appointment where I’m admonished for letting my inhaler prescription lapse as she observes my shallow breathing. Go to the pharmacy now, exclaims my doctor. There is no parking and I pull on the curb illegally to run in for the quick errand but the line is deep and I worry about a parking ticket as the clock ticks. But a ticket does not await me – instead a flat tire – punctured by the curb and my hasty parking. I fret about being away from work so long and yearn for my waiting bed. I pull around the corner of the busy street and call the boyfriend whose father kept us up into the early morning but he cannot help me, too busy with work where he is self employed. I can do this. Our 8th grade gym/science/health teacher taught us and I find the jack nested, but unmoveable and I go to the glove compartment for the manual and as I’m passing by a sewer grate my heavy keys slip and glide cleanly through the slat.