We gave our son, who is a rock climber, a Go Pro for his 27th birthday. If you are not familiar…it is a small movie camera that one can strap to their head, dashboard, bike–whatever–and it, the Go Pro, will then film what’s happening in the moment.
But when my husband, Jimmy, mentioned to our daughter that he coveted the device and fancied owning one too, she swiftly said, “Why would we ever get a Go Pro, we don’t do anything, not anything cool anyway, who’d want to watch that?!”
That was a little bit the way I felt when my friend, Lois, invited me to join her, along with a number of other writers, to participate in a blog tour where each writer shares their writing process. I thought, “How on earth will I ever describe my writing life? It simply isn’t that “cool” or interesting!”
And yet I did agree.
Because I love reading how the magic unfolds for others, I agreed to scale this mountain (sans Go Pro)…
How does my writing process work and why do I write what I do?
For me, there are two key ingredients: Time and Truth.
No words rang truer than Anne Tyler’s, when she mused, “If I waited until I felt like writing, I’d never write at all.”
Like so many other writers before me have described, I am easily distracted. Under a deadline? Suddenly every baseboard in my house shrieks to be cleaned, the receipts I have been hoarding beg to be accounted for, and I can be found searching my calendar for an available time to go to the dentist, even though the dentist is #1 on my list of, Top 5 Most Dreaded Appointments. And we won’t even mention the rabbit hole that is the Internet.
And if I relied on my mood? Oh man…nary a word would be written.
The only way I can really and truly write is to make an appointment with the page. What varies are the days of the week and the start time, but mostly we meet around 10:00 AM, four days a week: After the kids have left for school, after exercise, after coffee, after an email and social media sweep, and after I have brought some form of semblance to my home.
Once there, I work to turn down the noise–much like a meditation I need to let the demands of life slip away–and always I grant myself two (nearly) uninteruped hours. Every once in a while a thread from the day will find me still writing when my kids walk back through the door, but those two hours are as important as air. I write because I simply don’t know another way to exist.
Dani Shapiro, said it best in her fabulous book, Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life, when she wrote:
So what is it about writing that makes it–for some of us–as necessary as breathing? It is in the thousands of days of trying, failing, sitting, thinking, resisting, dreaming, raveling, unraveling that we are our most engaged, alert, and alive. Time slips away. The body is irrelevant. We are as close to consciousness itself as we ever will be. This begins in the darkness. Beneath the frozen ground, buried deep below anything we can see, something may be taking root. Stay there, if you can. Don’t resist. Don’t force it, but don’t run away. Endure. Be patient. The rewards cannot be measured. Not now. But whatever happens, any writer will tell you: This is the best part.
The first book I wrote was a memoir that was over two decades in the making. After all those years of being buried beneath the frozen ground, my story demanded I write it. But first I had to be brave with my voice in a way that I had, until then, not been.
In order to speak my truth I had to strip myself of the armor I had inhabited for so long, and once naked, I could not turn away; I had to tell my story. As a memoirist it was my job to not only vet the truth–but also what I had learned–then write my first draft. Much later came the ever humbling editorial process which resulted in the re-write, but that, is a whole different aspect of this writing life.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
We all have stories inside us. Our life experiences inform our stories. My voice, like all writers, is unique to me, it shares with the reader a look at the world through my lens. On my blog I write personal essays–essays which include birth, death, parenting, joy, grief, adventure, love–you name it. Each is a slice of life–my life–a moment in time shared. For it is in the sharing that aha moments and universal truths galvanize us in our need to connect. To notice. To be. And when that happens? That’s where the awe is.
What are you working on now?
Oh how this is an important question. The short answer is I haven’t been “working” on any one specific thing. What I have been doing for nearly a year is sifting and sorting my way through grief. Finally, after countless false starts at returning to a novel I had begun, I gave myself permission to let it go. It was more important that I be with my emotions. And although I’m not altogether sure where the path I am on is leading, there is one thing I do know…there is a story buried deep in the frozen ground and it’s beginning to thaw.
Thanks to Lois for inviting me to join this wonderful blog tour and now, it is my
relief pleasure to pass the blog tour torch to of all people, a woman of Royalty! Meet Cheryl Nicholl, who in her words is…
“…Her Majesty at A Pleasant House, chronicling living the good life at Midlife; living in New Orleans, traveling the globe, giving orders to the serfs, and gardening naked at midnight- because I can. BlahBlahBlah….”
Here are links to other writer’s who have participated in this blog tour, read what they had to say about their writing life: