Monday, December 19, 2016

WRITING DOWN THE BONES


As busy as I am these days as a mother of young children, the past couple of years of motherhood has been characterized by the revelation that I can be creative as a mother. While playing with my kids, in the way motherhood informs that creativity but also in the way it requires that I am disciplined about it. Here is some inspiration, but you have a lot less time so if you want it, figure it out! Make it happen! It's the challenge of turning the details of everyday life into a creative expression and it's also the challenge of finding time to do it. I like challenges.

I'm trying! to find a rhythm. Some weeks or even months I find it, and I'm abuzz, and then outside circumstances (like the winter!) comes around and I have to adjust.

A few weeks ago I took a little time to adjust and reset.  It was only one afternoon - I took off work and the girls were still at daycare - but it just for me and I felt rich in possibilities. I devoted the time solely to reading and writing and prohibited myself from doing chores or anything else that might distract (That's what the picture is from up there). I didn't get too much done in those four hours but it felt like a vacation nevertheless, and it was well worth it for the reminder that sometimes I need to be creative for creative sake. 

I had just started reading Natalie Goldberg's 'Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within' and the book helped me renew my resolve for practicing good writing habits (she teaches a lot of writing workshops and I found her her insight and advice very useful). It helps that I was ready to implement a strategy. There is a part in the beginning about writing tools and how it is important to figure out which work for you. She shares that her favorites are a cheap notebook and nice pen. I'm pretty sure mine is usually in front of a laptop with a blank Microsoft Word document open, but I was compelled by the idea of starting with a simple notebok and pen. That is how I used to journal back in high school and college (and have boxes and boxes of notebooks to prove it) and she points out that the benefit of this method is that there is no pressure to write something grand. The pages invite you to write down anything at all, and you accomplish what is most important about writing - the actual writing down of the words. The laptop may work best when I have inspiration and something concrete to expand upon, but for daily habits, I need to be getting something down each day, regardless of what it is. It's the practice of it, the discpline, that I want to cultivate. In this spirit, I went out and bought a couple of $1 notebooks, 90 sheets, college-ruled and made a commitment to write in it everyday for at least 15 minutes and chart my progress in an attempt to grow a habit. The effort requires pouring out first thoughts, silencing the editor, and including a lot of detail ("Not the why, but the what" - Hemmingway). I've missed some days here and there but for the most part I have been keeping it up!

Something else that I am munching on: Goldberg says that writers live twice. This sounds like super power, as well as a crazy impulse - both of which I appreciate. I recently discovered that I am a 7 on the Enneagram and as someone who loves the pursuit of adventures and revels in the experiences, being able to live those twice - first as I experience it and then again as I write about it - is a perspective I do see as a super power. I have less regrets and there is less moaning about the meaning of life because I am reliving small details over again as I write about them. This makes me grateful for the way my feet feel upon the earth that particular day. This also appeals to me as a mother of young kids. I am always trying to hold on just a little bit longer to those precious and temporary moments.

I take this next sentiment to heart and it reminds me of why I keep trying even when things get busy:
"A writer's job is to make the ordinary come alive, to awaken ourselves to the specialness of simply being."



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