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