Confession: I haven’t been writing.
My whole point in writing this blog is to encourage and support other writers and creatives in getting down to it and then sticking with it. Yet, here I am, not getting down to it or sticking with it.
By “it,” I mean my novel, Otherwise. I’m 133 pages and over 70,000 words in but I haven’t opened it in a while. My fingers haven’t been dancing across the keyboard madly taking down Margaret’s story in what feels like ages.
My seat has certainly been on the seat. I’ve been writing my “Morning Pages”, journaling, working a poem for an ekphrasis challenge, writing pr for various projects, composing letters, emails and facebook postings, reading about writing, reading novels, stories, poems, nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs and …
Oh, wait a minute, … I have been writing. I’ve even been working on my novel.
I’m reminded of an interview with Sue Monk Kidd. When asked about the writing process, she says, “… I often left my desk to sit on the dock overlooking the tidal creek behind our house and engage in stream of reverie about the story. I considered this earnest work.”*
She is not alone in this. Nearly every writer I admire talks about the importance of time away from the writing desk. It may not look like it is part of the writing process, but it is.
Anne Lamott in Bird By Bird (pp 179 & 182) encourages writers to, at times, get one page of anything written and then to read or go to the beach or ” … just really participate in ordinary life.” She says, “Any of these will begin the process of filling me back up with observations, flavors, ideas, visions, memories.” She adds later, “Your unconscious can’t work when you are breathing down its neck. You’ll sit there going, ‘Are you done in there yet, are you done in there yet?’ But it is trying to tell you nicely, ‘Shut up and go away.'”
I’ve been really participating in ordinary life of late. I’ve been actually having a summer (something I haven’t done well in several years). I’ve been “sitting on the dock overlooking the tidal creek” and Margaret’s story has been on my mind, but I haven’t been writing it down.
I’ve been filling up. I’ve been giving my unconscious time and space to mull and wander and wonder. I’ve been planting images there. I’ve been learning new things. I’ve been reminded of things I’ve forgotten or been too busy to think about. I’ve been reading, walking, playing and opening more fully to the world around me. I’ve been present more often than not.
I’ve been writing. Doing my “earnest work.” It’s just not on the page yet.
*from “A Conversation With Sue Monk Kidd” in “A Penguin Readers Guide” in the Penguin Books edition of The Secret Life of Bees.