Search This Blog

Monday, May 13, 2013

Today's status from Anne Lamott. It was worth sharing and keeping forever.

I had a great idea for a new book, although come to think of it, maybe it is just a Facebook post. But it would be called Pre First Draft, and address the way we suit up and show up to be writers, artists, and general tribal-two-stomp creative types.

I think it would begin with an admonition: if you used to love writing, painting, dancing, singing, whatever, but you stopped doing it when you had kids or began a strenuous career, then you have to ask yourself if you are okay about not doing it anymore.

If you always dreamed of writing a novel or a memoir, and you used to love to write, and were pretty good at it, will it break your heart if it turns out you never got around to it? If you wake up one day at eighty, will you feel nonchalant that something always took precedence over a daily commitment to discovering your creative spirit?

If not--if this very thought fills you with regret--then what are you waiting for?

Back in the days when I had writing students, they used to spend half their time explaining to me why it was too hard to get around to writing every day, but how once this or that happens--they retired, or their last kid moved out--they could get to work.

I use to say very nicely, "That's very nice; but it's a total crock. There will never be a good time to write. It will never be easier. If you won't find an hour a day now, you won't find it then."

It's the same belief as thinking that once you lose weight, you'll begin to feel good about yourself. No, you won't. If you're not okay with yourself at 185 pounds, you're not going to be okay at 140. It's an inside job.

How do you begin? The answer is simple: you decide to. Then you push back your sleeves and start writing--I.e., scribbling words down on paper, or typing at a computer. And it will be completely awful. It will be unreadable shit! You won't have a clue how it account to anything, ever. And to that, I say, Welcome. That's what it's like to be a writer. But you just do it anyway. At my church, we sing a gospel song called, "Hallelujah anyway." Everything's a mess, and you're going down the tubes financially, and gaining weight? Well, Hallelujah anyway.

So you decide to get back to work creatively, and you write up some thoughts or passages or memories or scenes. Then what? Then you write some more. Everywhere you go, you carry a pen, and take notes--ideas will start to come to you. You'll see and overhear and remember things that you want to include in this mysterious quilt you're putting together, so you jot them down. Imagine a rag-bag guy who lives inside you, who collects images, descriptions, holy moments, snippets of funny conversation, for you to use in your writing--but he doesn't have any hands, and needs you to help him amass the rags with which you can make squares for the quilt.

That's all you have to do today: pay attention--being a writer is about paying attention. Stop hitting the snooze button. Carry a pen with you everywhere, or else God will give me all these insights and images that were supposed to go to you. Hang up a shingle on the inside of you: now open for business. Wow! You won't have to wake up at 70, aching with regret that you threw your creative essence under the bus. And if you already are seventy, then you won't have to wake up at eighty, confused and in despair about how you let your gift slip away. Because you will have been writing--or dancing again, or practicing recorder--every single glorious, livelong, weird, amazing day.

Monday, May 6, 2013

a lesson not learned

I came across this on my external hard drive tonight. Funny how I'm in this very spot again.

sick in a busy world

Sometimes, I miss the olden days, the time before I was born. I miss the countries in which I have never lived. And, I miss the life that I hope to come.

Right now, I’m sick. I’m nauseous, been vomiting sporadically, have a great deal of tension in the back of my neck and shoulders, pain, a headache, and a cough that comes and goes. You know what I’m thinking about? Work. I’m thinking about how my boss expects me to be there bright and early in the morning to assist her with a project even though she saw me barely able to stand as I told her that I was leaving early. I’m thinking about the number of tasks that I need to get accomplished this week and how many things better yet would have been done two weeks ago. I’m thinking about the intern that started today and was let down by my health, greeted by my staff instead of I who will supervise her and direct her tasks. You know what I want to be thinking about? Fresh fish, and coffee in the morning. My racing mind has led me to reflect on the living model of most of us that work and breathe. We work, work, work and do, do, do but what happens when our body cries out for rest? I tend to work shorter days, 6 hours instead of 8 or 9. As such, my body tends to heal slower than it would had it been allowed to rest as needed and frequently be replenished with refreshing water and other hydrating fluids. I get a little more rest with my shorter day, but I do so thinking about the many tasks that I need to accomplish around the house and how I wish that I had been more strength to productively use some of my newly acquired time. Right now, I crave the days that I have not known where I am allowed to sit still and heal, live. Our model of living works against us. It was constructed as something to benefit something greater than us, someone richer that we are, someone with more power. It was not created to respect our differences and our needs or to encourage our talents or many of out strengths. It was created to teach us conformity and complacency and gratefulness for something that it not great.  At least it pays the bills. Some of them. More than we could pay if we did not work 40-80 hours per week for someone else doing something that does not provide soul celebrating pleasure and peace. 

I call out for rest. I call out for relaxation. I call out for something that heals my soul, soul celebrating work that reaches out to someone else.

I’m a social worker. I reach out to others. Under stress. And a schedule. And four bosses.

I seek something different and today I create the challenge to find something more. When I grow up, I want to be independently wealthy so that I do not have to go to work everyday and do what someone else wants me to do. I strive for the life where I am not required to wake up before 8am and I get to set my agenda for the day. My soul has given me the outline of how my life should look. Now I question the details. What step shall I take next to get the life that I seek to lead?

Original: June 2, 2008