In the Mood

Today’s calendar square is empty. Twelve precious hours spread out before me like a gourmet buffet and I don’t know where to start, what to try first. Hubby and houseguest have gone into the city and my day at home has nothing begging for attention. On this first day of summer I feel like a child let out of school, racing through a meadow of unlimited possibilities.

There are a number of things I could do. Probably several I should do.  Ah, but I’m going to indulge in what such a day allows… doing what I want to, guilt free. I want to sit here in uninterrupted solitude and snatch at thoughts as they flit through my mind like evasive butterflies.

Julia Cameron says, “Writing is about getting something down, not about thinking something up.”* Joy is a Monday with time to put the butterfly net to work… capture ideas and words… pin them down.

Twelve precious hours to write. “It’s a luxury to be in the mood to write. It’s a blessing but it’s not a necessity.”* I’m in the mood. I’m blessed.

The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life (1998) Tarcher/Putnam

There’s Life, and Then There’s Real Life

Last week I ‘gallivanted’ my way to a granddaughter’s wedding, a wonderful family visit and back to my own home again. Did I write during my absence? Of course. Did I write much? Of course not! Life got in the way.

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As writers we’re led to believe that we should be able to write “no matter what” – that if writing is our passion we’ll always find the time. That’s idealistic. Reality says that times of unexpectedness are bound to interrupt our routines, and unless we’re impossibly addicted to our work, we’ll know when family needs, personal health, work responsibilities, church commitments — other priorities — require our attention.

We’ll always have to contend with the complexities of our daily lives. But how do we know when those other activities and apparent demands are priorities or simply excuses?

If it prevents us from making a start, I’d say it’s probably an excuse. “I’ll wait until my children are in school.” “Once I’m finished this course I’ll have more time.” “I can’t focus on anything while home renovation has the household in chaos.” “I’m feeling overwhelmed by life; I can’t write when I’m this depressed.” I’d say those are all excuses. Temporary, relatively brief interruptions are more likely to be valid priorities.

Am I wrong? What do you consider valid interruptions in your writing process?


After one year what’s next? Anything?

Today is a significant day, although not to anyone except me. It was one year ago today that this blog was created, but that in itself isn’t particularly noteworthy.

 

Yesterday a friend asked me why anyone would want to put information about oneself out into the anonymous public eye, and why anyone else would want to read trivia written by an unknown. She’s never read a blog and has no desire to. I found it difficult to justify to her why I do. Each reason I offered was met with a disparaging response. 

 

So now I look back over this year of blogging with uncertainty and wonder if it has been wasted time and effort.

 

Many new cyber-friends and fellow writers have come my way by means of this blog—people I would never have known except for the internet. Via its vast network I’ve discovered authors, agents and editors all offering me glimpses of their personal and professional lives and sharing their expertise. I am richer and wiser for those encounters.

 

But I don’t require a blog of my own to search out such people, so does it really have any value? Honesty makes me acknowledge that it probably isn’t meaningful to many others, but when I reflect on who I was one year ago and how I felt about promoting myself then, I know I owe a lot to this small page on the World Wide Web. CarolBecause of it I have tiptoed into the open, pulling aside the curtain that separated the artificial layers of my persona from the authentic me. For an introverted writer that’s a gigantic achievement. It’s reason enough to keep me blogging into a second year. I may not have a published novel to promote here yet, but am I wasting my time and effort? I don’t think so! I’m here to stay.

A Mañana Morning

Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you I’m not a morning person. While I’m thankful for each new day, I waken groggy, slow to acknowledge its presence. I’m always in awe of writers who rise before dawn to snatch hours of quiet creativity before the rest of the world has left their beds.

 

I think I may have been a mañana kind of person in a previous life – not the “esta mañana” kind but a “hasta mañana”, a let-me-sleep-and-I’ll-see-you-tomorrow sort.

 

Maybe that’s why I was drawn to Tony Cohan’s book, “On Mexican Time”. When Los Angeles novelist Tony Cohan and his artist wife, Masako, visited central Mexico one winter, they fell under the spell of a place where the pace of life is leisurely, the cobblestone streets and sun-splashed plazas are enchanting, and the sights and sounds of daily fiestas fill the air. Awakened to needs they didn’t know they had, they returned to California, sold their house, and cast off for San Miguel de Allende.”

 mexicantime234

Cohan writes of a sensual ambience and a sometimes languorous lifestyle that suits my version of time… at least, my mornings. Eventually my days gather speed as I muster enthusiasm for their upcoming tasks. Coffee helps.

 

That’s what I need this morning: coffee. Perhaps a cup of one of the excellent organically grown coffees from Mexico. That would do it. Okay, I’m off to fill my favourite mug.  🙂

 

A Timely Topic (heh-heh, sorry!)

Sunday night already? We work our way through the weekdays yearning for the weekend and then it’s here and gone again in less time than it takes to perk a pot of coffee to drink with the Saturday morning paper.

I don’t get it. I don’t understand time. When I was a child a day was endless. I ate and napped and played the hours away, unaware of time until I received the five-minute pre-bedtime warning. But as an adult I’m stunned at the progressive speed with which my days keep shrinking. Twenty-four hours are twenty-four hours. How can the length of a child’s day be different from mine? Einstein’s theory suggests it may have something to do with time dilation… the difference in time being due to differing perspectives.

Time may be just an intellectual concept but at the rate it’s passing I’m wondering if there will be any of it left when I reach my venerable dodderage. Or at that point will I wake up, acknowledge it’s morning, and then roll over and go back to sleep because it’s already night again? Maybe if I become senile and return to child-like ways my days will begin to get longer?

This is much too cerebral for a Sunday evening. I think I’ll head for bed. It may be morning before I get there.

I Don’t Have Time (or do I?)

Today someone asked me if I’m disciplined. Disciplined? Me? That’s a relative term and I had to ask for clarification before answering. After all, if she could see my haphazard approach to housework, she wouldn’t need to ask. But the reference was to daily writing so I was able to affirm that yes, I do write every day, although not always at the same hour. I’m not that disciplined.

 

Not everyone agrees daily writing is essential to an author’s success, but those who have read about Morning Pages, Weekly Walks and Artist’s Dates will know Julia Cameron isn’t one of those people. She is a remarkably self-disciplined author, artist, composer, filmmaker, teacher and journalist. It doesn’t matter how she feels, where she is, or how much time she does or doesn’t have, her creative commitment is always fulfilled. Whenever I feel as if I don’t have time to write, I think of something I read in her book “The Right to Write”.

 

She says, “The “if-I-had-time” lie is a convenient way to ignore the fact that novels require being written and that writing happens a sentence at a time. Sentences can happen in a moment. Enough stolen moments, enough stolen sentences, and a novel is born–without the luxury of time.”*

 

My dictionary defines disciplined as “showing orderliness and control in the way something is done or somebody behaves.” When it comes to writing, we are the ones who control our own output. For me the daily question is: will I take control and make time today?

 

 

*The Right to Write, Julia Cameron (Tarcher/Putnam, 1998)

 

 

So Many Books, So Little Time

“So many books, so little time.”  If you Google this phrase you’ll come up with 164,000 results — everything from Sara Nelson’s book documenting a year of her passionate reading, to articles on the subject, and even a forum of the same name on the Indigo/Chapters site debating about what ten books you might take if you knew you were going to be stranded on a desert island.

 

For me, the words stand alone, not as a title for anything. They emerge from my mouth sounding more like a moan, a wail, expressing my frustration that there are more books that I want to read than there are hours left in my life. (And I’m planning for a lot of those!)

 

Author Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio was announced yesterday as the 2008 Nobel Prize winner in Literature. Acclaimed as an “author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization,” he is one of France’s best-known contemporary writers, but I haven’t read any of his works.

 

Selecting what to read — what’s worthy of my time — is always a dilemma. So I could relate to a recent blog entry by literary agent Jessica Faust.  Here’s an excerpt:

“I somehow had the impression that as a recent college grad, or just an intelligent woman, I should be reading more intelligent books (whatever that means). In other words, I should be catching up on the classics I missed out on as a journalism major or reading only books that incited great philosophical discussions… It took me a long time to accept and advertise the fact that I was a commercial fiction girl… I think all readers evolve and grow over time and eventually find their niche. I hear often from those who read only fantasy as young people and now have grown to read different kinds of fiction, and I hear from others who still can’t stomach commercial fiction but love nothing more than to cuddle into a long classic. Some typically enjoy longer literary works, but when life is tough or getting them down, they will pull out a favorite romance or thriller. What we read and when we’re reading it can say a lot about who we are in that time of our life, just like the music we listen to and the movies we watch.”

 

I wonder what my reading choices say about me. On my virtual coffeetable at present: Fiction — “Leota’s Garden” by Francine Rivers, “Carlyle’s House” by Virginia Woolf, “Light on Snow” by Anita Shreve and Kirsty Scott’s “Between You & Me”. Non-fiction: Julia Cameron’s “The Sound of Paper”, Des Kennedy’s “Crazy About Gardening”, and John Fischer’s “Be Thou My Vision” (daily meditation).

 

Reading vies with writing for possession of my time. No matter how much I spend on either, it’s never enough! I need to live to be 120!

 

 

Bring on the Lemonade!

While autumn is still officially three weeks away, Labour Day weekend pretty much signals the end of summer. Today most vacations are over, schools reopen and a new season of back-to-routine begins. Aagghh!!!

 

I’m not finished with summer yet. In fact, I still haven’t completed the spring cleanup of my garden beds, or, for that matter, even put away last winter’s wardrobe. I’m not ready to move on to another new season, however ready it may be to descend on me. Why is it that I always seem to be playing seasonal catch-up? Every year the months accelerate with annoying momentum.

 

Maybe after Christmas I’ll finally be ready to tackle September’s activities, but not yet. I’m just not ready yet. I’m still in summer mode. Bring on the lemonade, and don’t you dare fold up that lawn chair!