Friday, November 7, 2014

One Yard: On Writing

Back in March, I set myself a goal of writing a blog post a week. Almost eight months later, I have written thirty-six of them, a whole yard of posts marking the passage of time.

I'm not sure I have much more to say about it than that. When I began, even a foot of posts seemed improbable, given my intermittent postings over the prior months. I am still challenged by finding the right place for writing in my daily life. I still chastise myself for continuing to write mostly in the margins of my days. I think of the poet William Stafford, who would rise early each morning, light a small lamp to see by, kindle a fire if it were cold, make himself comfortable, and then sit in the dark, quiet house and write.

In recounting that story to my friend Margo, I added "I'm not getting up at 5:30 to write."

And therein lies the rub. Stafford addressed that point, as his son Kim captured so clearly in a memoir about his father: "We are not practicing to be writers; we are entering into the practice of being writers, revising our very lives, yielding in each moment to the vocation that demands our deepest allegiance." (From Early Morning by Kim Stafford)

A variation on that thought is found in Simple Living by Frank Levering and Wanda Urbanska: ""It's the peculiar notion held by so many that you spend the lion's share of your life wanting to do something else...before you get to the sliver reserved for the 'real you.'"

In short, writing is what writers do.

I can tick off a handful of reasons without even pausing as to why I don't write more frequently. I work at Juvenile Court, I volunteer at the Legal Clinic, I have regularly blood work and oncology appointments, I am working on a special court project on a contract basis for our local Municipal Court, I am married to a man with an overly busy schedule, I bake, I sit on our Civil Service Commission,  I am the caretaker for an aging aunt, I am married to the Symphony.

And I write in the margins of my life.

I have a good friend who also writes in the corners of her daily existence. Cecelia's life is immensely crowded with a young family, school events, parish commitments, a husband whose job takes him out of town, and a full-time job. I am a lady of leisure compared to her. She and I are talking about making a commitment to each other to write x times a week and each of us encouraging the other to write. She has some ideas in her head and on paper; I have a juvenile novel one-third written and the rest hanging out there somewhere.

Is x too many times? Realize that x is an unknown. Does x=2? Does x =3? Let's say x=2. If I write my blog post and my Myeloma Beacon column in the same week, have I met my minimum quota (x)? Or does x represent one blog post and working on my novel? And if I write only five minutes on my novel, is that writing? (One of the many great things about Cecelia is that she puts herself through these same mental paroxysms, so we understand each other perfectly.)

Solve for x.

In the end, it comes down to making writing work in my day. Or, truthfully, making a commitment to writing. Just not at 5:30 a.m.


Anne said...

I say set a goal for 90 minutes a week writing. It can be on anything non-work or adult responsibility related.

see you there! said...

I always enjoy your posts and think you write so well. I hope you find the required time to write. Maybe make it a habit? Start with a few minutes at a certain time every then see if you can increase those minutes. It does seem we all struggle to find time for our "authentic selves" while meeting daily tasks of living.