Three weeks into my new space, I find that I am better at keeping my clutter out of our living space and better at not letting clutter (mine or otherwise) pile up on the desk in my new space. I find I use my new space to organize myself, to pay bills, to make to do lists.
What I don't use my new space for is writing. I keep all of my writing tools up there—notebooks, pens, stationery, envelopes, favorite books, dictionary—but the actual writing is done at the kitchen table or in the downstairs study on the couch (where I am penning this right now) or even on the fly. Last Sunday Warren had a rehearsal prior to a concert, and I added another 3000 words to something I have been working on for some time and which had laid fallow since February. I scribbled away contentedly, tucked into a corner of a church pew, while the rehearsal took place. (Now that's writing.)
My good friend Tani, who has a nagging urge to write, wrote me recently about writing. Tani is a school teacher and so looks to her summers as an opportunity to do all kinds of projects that get set aside during the school year. She wrote: What I'm spending most of my time on is NOT-WRITING. There are so so many things that make it easy to NOT-WRITE.
I loved how Tani capitalized and hyphenated the condition of NOT-WRITING. There are lots of days that I too suffer from NOT-WRITING.
Talking yesterday with my friend Cecelia, who also has the writing gene, I asked her if she was writing these days. No, but she had a game plan to create dedicated time in her busy life (family, work, young children) and I nodded. "That's a start."
We all need a place from which to start.
Challenging myself to write a blog post a week has been good for me. It makes me stare at the paper (or the wall or the backyard) and put down my thoughts. It holds me accountable, a phrase we use a lot in juvenile court. What I haven't done yet is turn this effort into a part of my daily life.
The poet William Stafford got up early every day and set aside an hour in which to write. Stafford commented more than once on this practice, of making a cold room warm, of keeping the light low and the room dark beyond the perimeter of his desk, of writing in the quiet empty time before dawn. His son Kim Stafford, also a writer, captured the essence of this habit in his memoir about his father, Early Morning: "When you read my father's poems, you are with him there, in the early morning. Others are sleeping, but you are with him to discover something independent of frenzy, word by word, before dawn."
That's my ultimate goal: to create a space in my day like Stafford created, where it is just me and the page, trying to discover something, word by word.