Tag Archives: plugging away

What To Say, Another Day

Don’t know what to say. Thursdays typically do turn out to be my days to veg, where I kinda mope around the apartment, taking most of the day until I finally get out and check the mail, do my online stuff. I don’t know whether it’s a seventh day, sabbath sort of thing, or whether (maybe still much the same thing) it’s because I go back to work, early the next morning. I do know it seems I’m never able to get enough sleep. Thursdays, however, my body does seem more game to stay in bed, more hesitant to be up and moving about.

Still, I have to get done what I have to get done. Just because my body’s more agreeable to resting and sleeping doesn’t mean I can take the day off. Just because it’s my day off from the paying job doesn’t mean I can take it off completely.

On the plus side, there was snow when I woke this morning. Roughly two inches. It was below zero when I went out to shovel the sidewalk, so it was dry powdery snow. The sun was shining through the cloud cover. There was a brilliance to the early morning. Possibility seemed possible again.

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But it’s five hours later on, and I’ve still not put any words to any page. I’m feeling nearly as dry as the snow. Definitely more socked in by clouds. Doesn’t seem much is possible, here at the writing desk. But just because it’s being an off day doesn’t mean I get to take it off. I still have to get done what I have to get done.

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RE: Change

So, I’ve been home two weeks, now; and I’ve gotta say, seems not much has changed. My writing took an immediate nosedive, back to what it’d been before. Rather than doing things differently, acting on the insights/reminders I’d received during my week away, I’ve jumped right back to business as usual.

And maybe this is somewhat to be expected. Sometimes change is moreso the verb than the noun. And just perhaps part of my own post-vacation change is seeing how things haven’t changed. My first week back seemed mostly about getting my feet back under me at work. This second week has been seeing and confirming that how I’d been doing things wasn’t working, and reminding myself that one big reason for my week away was because things weren’t working and I needed at least some of them to change.

So here I am, in something of a sweet spot, perhaps: Just a couple weeks away from having seen other and better ways of living my life, and having just this very week seen how the old ways aren’t working. I’m currently bothered with how I’m doing things; yet the memory is still fresh in my mind of how things can be done better. See? It’s not a thing, yet; it’s still forming, still an action, a state of being.

During my week in Telluride, I took no fewer than four walks or hikes. In the two weeks I’ve been home? Not a single excursion, outside. I wrote everyday in Telluride. Today is the fourth day I’ve written in the two weeks since. To be sure, having a job can make it more difficult to make time for penning the pages and walking in the parks. And it’s also true that I’d forgotten how frustrating and draining my job is, after just a week away. Still, I’m not asking for big, drastic changes—just the wee, small ones. It’s okay that I fell back into my old routine. It would have been kinda hard not to. But now that I’ve seen this, I can begin easing back toward better routines. And, perhaps, one of those better routines is becoming both patient with, and compassionate toward, myself, huh?

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The Age Thing

I turn fifty at the end of the week; and still I have no collection of my published work. Nor am I in any anthology, any other collection of writings. Other than where they were originally published, I have no works anywhere in the world.

Michelle Kodis once said, “Comparison is the root of all unhappiness.” So perhaps I ought not unfurl the litany of fellow writers who, back in their whippersnapper thirties and twenties, were miles ahead of where I currently am. Perhaps I should take heart, instead, with folks like John Irving,  Mary Oliver, and others who continue producing phenomenal work while significantly settled in “retirement age.” Writing is something I’ll be able to do for a long way on down the road. Something that will still be paying me, not requiring my living off of savings and Social Security.

But it’s not so much the financials that have me in a twist, due to my late start. It’s that feeling of insecurity due to being behind my fellows. The sense of impossibility in catching up. Of forever being too far behind.

But, also, it’s not as though I haven’t been writing for the last twenty years. That I’ve been away from my craft, playing tiddlywinks, instead. Being able to write well is a separate issue from being published. (And, likewise, to be sure, being published doesn’t mean you write well!)

Some things bear repeating; so let me say it again: “Comparison is the root of all unhappiness.” Perhaps comparing myself with others is a way of negating myself. So what if I’ll be in my fifties—or maybe even older—when I am finally published? That can also mean, among other things, that I’ll bring more to the table when published. More experience, more insight, more wisdom, more compassion, more empathy, more assuredness, more confidence. It is with these attributes that I’ll catch up with my fellows. Perhaps maybe not ever in quantity, but in quality, where it truly matters.

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It Happens

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Sometimes I come to the page and nothing happens. No matter how I stare at the page, no matter how long: zippo, zilch, nada, nothing. Case in point, I’ve been staring at my computer screen for roughly four hours, now, trying to squeeze a blogpost out. Two different post titles, at least four different attempts that each and all died within two lines. (The poet William Stafford once said, “There’s no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.”)

Then I remembered my college English classes, when it’d be mentioned that whomever we were studying at the moment had suffered periods of writer’s block, of dry spells when nothing seemed to be coming. “They coulda written about not being able to write,” was always mentioned, usually in a snarky tone of voice—and sometimes by the professor.

So, with nothing otherwise coming to me to blog about, I’m blogging about not being able to.

In her book, Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg  said you have to be willing “to write the worst junk in the world.” Numerous, countless, other writers and teachers of writing have mentioned how perfectionism makes the words get in the way. Likewise, other writers have echoed James Michener’s, “I’m not  a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” The trick is getting something written so that you’ll have something to work with.

I’m coming back to that Stafford quote. I poo-pooed those earlier posting attempts, discounting them because they “weren’t working,” but they got me to this very post.

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Pondering the Last Minute

Mucho months ago I signed up for a six-hour/one-day poetry workshop. A year ago I’d signed up for an earlier version of the same workshop, which had fortysome participants. But this time, it would be more intimate, with far fewer attendants; so I made it a point to sign up early, lest I lose my chance of getting in.

But here’s the thing: The workshop takes place in less than a week, and as of one or two days ago, I was the only one who’d signed up. And in an ironic twist to my feeling that I needed to get in early in order to get a spot, there’s a possible chance not enough people will register in order to make the workshop a “go.” However, the woman who’s conducting the workshop says this sorta thing happens pretty much all the time: folks waiting until after the two-minute warning to commit themselves to attending.

This tendency has me pondering what sorta writing career I wanna pursue. Workshops and conferences and the like are a way to help replenish the coffers in-between writing gigs. And while my finding out a mere week before this current workshop that I was the only one who’d signed up was a bit unsettling, it had to be even moreso for Rosemerry—she has had to put in the time and energy and effort for a workshop that might not take place. And to hear from her that this is somewhat par for the course… Well, grrrr. I’m wanting my vocation to be _less_ stressful than my current paying-job. I tend to do badly and poorly, being held in suspension while waiting for a, Good To Go. There are other writerly avenues that can be followed, but still…

However, workshops and such are also a way to build an audience, to promote yourself as “the real deal,” and to escape the solipsistic vortex of crafting and to engage yourself in the writing community. (And, too, sometimes workshops do have participants, do happen.) And surely, being a writer, I’ve dealt before with ideas not panning out. Yet I keep returning the pages, even without any guarantees. It’s to be expected. It’s par for the course.

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