Monday, January 2, 2017

Puzzle Pieces

It’s 2017.  Everyone always wants the new year to be so full of promise and potential, but whether the New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, get published or find a job, the reality is, we can dream all we want, it’s what we do that makes the difference between an aspiration and a resolution.  

I aspire to be a writer.  Well. What did I write yesterday?  Nothing!   Not one stupid word!  Why not? 
The brain felt flat.  That’s no excuse if you want to be a writer. Why did you let it stop you?   I don’t know.   The Drill Sergeant in me is no more pleasant than anyone else’s.   She told me to stop and give her 1K.   I told her I didn’t know what to write.  She told me so what?  Make it 2K.  

That’s the difference.  If you want this year’s resolution to be a success, you must resolve to will it.  It’s the same with everything else, but that bottled will isn’t sold in the stores.  I write things down. I make lists.  I set aside time, I read.  I do all the things you’re supposed to do, but it still comes down to being willing to ignore the blank page and write.  

I looked at the word count.  Damn.  Only 220 words, and that includes numbers.   Ugh.  Whatever the damn dam is in my brain, it’s strong.   I ran through my excuses.   I didn’t sleep well.  We’ve been sick.  It was Christmas, I have family visiting.  The Drill Sergeant smirked.  That’s fodder.  You should have had three articles from those experiences.  Sick, insomnia, Christmas with family, those are gold mines of inspiration.  

I’m content.   Oh, does the Drill Sergeant hate that one.  It’s hard to write if you’re relaxed, you’ve got nothing pressing, and there isn’t something just poking you, demanding that you turn it over in your head until you’ve figured it out.   3K!  Three thousand words? Are you kidding me?  I barely made it to 300!  I’ve pulled up all three of my books, I have editing to do.  I need to write and submit three columns this week and I’ve got nothing. Nothing! Nothing! Nothing! 

What if there isn’t any more?  What if it’s dried up?  

Drill Sergeant yelled at me.  You went to Rogue One!  You watched Lord of the Rings, you had a heart to heart with a daughter, there’s a super pile of laundry over there and the dishes, do you want to do those instead?  No.   You could be exercising.  The Drill Sergeant lists as many unpleasant tasks as she can imagine to show me that writing isn’t just something I do to create, it’s something I do to avoid as well. 

I think about why I became an English Major, and one of the reasons, was a hurt, and recently, it came to me that I should forgive that hurt, and I did.  However, I didn’t realize until I let go of that hurt, how much of what I write and why I write, was part of trying to prove something or pile up something to bury rather than forgive that hurt.  My brother talked to me about being more vulnerable in my writing. I sat there thinking, I don’t want to be, or rather, I didn’t think I needed to be.   But maybe, that unwillingness was part of the damn, or not wanting to take my brother’s suggestion seriously. (Also a possibility).   I went back to the “I’m content.”  What it meant was, I’d plateaued.  I’d need to work harder. 

Drill Sergeant is pumping her fist.  “You’ve made it to 600.  Push!”  and no more cheapy gimmicks like my pushing the word count, just write Sherry.  Write.  

This year, I resolve to submit a piece to three places each week.  I resolve to finish writing all three books.  I also resolve to return to the rosary, and finish it each day, even if it takes me to the next day.  (Stops to finish yesterday’s rosary).  It is only when I complete the last Hail Mary, that I recognize I did the Glorious mysteries, and wonder if I should have done the Joyful. I remember, that’s today’s job.   My days and nights and weeks are a mess, and tomorrow will be rough.  Tomorrow will be Tuesday, tomorrow they go back to school and the schedule starts back up full throttle.  Will goes back tomorrow.  Mom goes back Thursday.  Bonn goes back Saturday, and Marta, the Saturday after that.  Peter has an S.A.T. in the following week.  I can feel the month charging forward even as I hold onto these last precious still minutes. 

Writing is a luxury. It is also leisure. It is a way I waste time, both with my own company and God and others.  It is a way I spend time.  There are a thousand productive things I could be doing.  I am here spilling words, for the joy of figuring out what the next word will be.   Tomorrow I will do it again for the same reason. 

My daughter comes in the room to ask for help with a math program she’s playing.  She wants me to give her the right answer.  “What’s the question?”  I ask.  When she gives me the parameters, I go to check the program.  She’s misunderstood the problem, and the answer she’s given but won’t give is correct.  Writing works the same way.  It isn’t the need to be more vulnerable, but to keep allowing for vulnerability.  The intimacy of writing is in the moment, not in secrets, but in shared feeling.   Creating a sense in the reader of what I think as I think it and the why of it, allows the reader to run down the rabbit holes with me to discover what I find as I play with these words and turn them over to make a new puzzle each time.  Triumphant music plays on my daughter’s video game as she finishes the section on fractions, and I steal a glance at my word count.  I’m over one thousand and I’ve figured out, all these words, each day, they’re puzzle pieces of the bigger picture.  One day, it will all fit together, or at least make more sense as a composite.   

1 comment:

Linda Fox said...

I have to disagree about your writing being self-indulgent and a time-waster. It is how you communicate with others, lift spirits, and live outside of the constraints of your own experience.

Never apologize for taking time to write.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!