Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day by Page

Working on the sequel to The Vicarious Woman has reminded me of the joy of writing. It's also been a source of self-discovery.

Each morning, I've managed to wake up at four o'clock to write. Each time I sat down in front of the computer screen, completely oblivious, I've managed to write 1700 words or more. I've managed to move from one event to the next, one revelation to the next, one scene to the next, without having even the faintest clue when I sat down, where I was going to go. I followed my own advice to my students: Don't try to get it right, just get it down.

Yes, there's a lot of dusty black coal in there, but I've got more diamonds than I'd have if I didn't start picking away to begin with.

And I've learned that I do really love writing, and I would be happiest as a writer. Even with the nervousness, the anxiety, the fear of creating something from nothing, all of those pulse-quickening elements make writing worth the time. Every day I'm surprised by the novel. It feels like a separate entity that is writing itself; it just needed a pair of hands.

On the other hand, I've learned that life is exactly the same, and perhaps should be handled similarly.

I let myself be overwhelmed by worries so often. Worries far off in the distance. What will happen next month? What will I do next year? What if the money doesn't come through? What if the car breaks down? But worrying doesn't solve the problems. It just occupies my time and keeps me in a state of stasis.

What if I handled my life the way that I've handled the novel this month? What if I just woke up and moved forward, fully anticipating problems to resolve themselves? What if I just focused on the next 1700 seconds instead of the next 1700 hours or days? What if I let next year be a problem for next year? Next month for next month?

What if I discovered that the only thing limiting the plot of my life were the limitations set by my own mind? And then what if I pushed those limitations off of a cliff and chose not to establish new ones?

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A Mirror, A Summer, A Street by Autumn Crisp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.