It’s snowing and I woke up with a cold. I have some much to do today and all I can seem to do is sit here and sniffle. School is still going well, but it is becoming all too clear that I bit off more than I could chew. There just isn’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. There are also many big decisions to be made and I have no idea what it the best thing to do. Faith being tested again, I should be used to this by now.
I’ve also been avoiding the writing. I don’t think I’m blocked because I think about the stories constantly, I’m plotting and working through characterization and timelines every other minute…but I’m not actually sitting down to write – which is a problem. Stories can’t come to life if I never let them out of my head.
Last week a disappointed chapter in my life came to an end. I still have some loose ends that need tending to, however it will all be over in a couple of months. I already feel lighter and more positive about the future. I am however still very aware of how many things still need to change in my life. Some areas feel right on track, while other areas are so upside down it’s hard to imagine where to begin to correct them. A lot of the confusion comes back to the fact that I haven’t been writing. I’ve heard/read so many writers talk about how their lives feel unmanageable if they stop writing, they no longer feel sane if the words aren’t getting written. I know what they mean in a sense. I don’t feel anymore insane or sane than normal, but I do feel like I’m going through the motions. When I’m writing everyday I’m able to do everything else in my life better. I’m better. All my parts come together with less effort, I feel at home in my own skin. My head and heart work in harmony instead of operating with different agendas.
Last week I felt compelled to re-read some essays from Natalie Goldberg’s classic Writing Down the Bones. I read about writing with new eyes and I heard Natalie’s wisdom with new ears and an open heart. She speaks of practice, of writing like a commitment to a spiritual practice like one’s committment to meditation. She also talks of the importance of turning off the inner critic and editor. I realized that I am stuck because I’m putting too much pressure on myself and I’ve reverted back into an old habit of paralysis. I had been scrutinizing every word and not allowing myself to just write.
Becoming a better writer is a lot like learning to teach. I had a lesson not go very well last week and I realized in the middle that all the planning in the world can’t prepare you for what will actually happen in the moment. The lesson was better served by listening to my instincts and changing my approach mid-flight. My writing needs the same approach. I have to plot and build three-dimensional characters who connect with readers. There will always be an element of preparation, but I can’t get lost in that anymore. I can’t get so lost that I can’t find my way back to the page.
In all honesty the writing is one of the only things in my life that I can control. I can sit down and write every day. I can make forward motion in my art, even if it is so slow and gradual that I am the only one who notices it. I can commit to my writing as if committing to a spiritual practice. I can do this one thing every day…somehow I know that doing this one thing will help everything else in my life fall into place as well.