The Way Back
"It hurts to be present, though. I ask my students every week to write 10 observations of the actual world. .... Just tell me what you saw this morning like in two lines. I saw a water glass on a brown tablecloth, and the light came through it in three places. No metaphor. And to resist metaphor is very difficult because you have to actually endure the thing itself, which hurts us for some reason. ... We want to say, 'It was like this; it was like that.' We want to look away. And to be with a glass of water or to be with anything — and then they say, “Well, there’s nothing important enough.” And that’s whole thing. It’s the point."
I've been thinking about adopting her practice: ten observations a day. Or maybe ten a week; she didn't specify. I've been thinking about writing a lot, actually. Thinking about it, but not doing much of it.
I put my memoir on the back burner when I got busy at work, and I haven't picked it up since. I've spent my free time drawing eyes. Which is satisfying to a degree, but not top priority. Writing has and always will be top priority.
How do I find my way back in, after such much time away? (This is the part I hate most. The re-acclimation. The slow ramp up.)
When I think about what causes me the most anxiety about the book, it's the people who have heard about it over the years, and occasionally inquire: How's your memoir coming?
I don't have a respectable for them. I've been so wishy-washy about the process. These daily blog posts have taught me that I can commit to something, even if it seems impossible. That's an important lesson. And it might not be realistic to work on my memoir every single day but I can set similar parameters for myself: five minutes a day or thirty minutes a week. Frame it up in my head as nonnegotiable.
Ways Back In: A List
- Honor all those potential connections. Reach out to possible allies. Don't let the fear of rejection stop you. Plant seeds.
- 10 observations of the actual world, clinkety clank.
- Two shitty pages a day.
- Anne Lamott didn't even commit to two pages. She used 3x5" index cards.
- Try different angles. Find other ways in.
- Keep in touch with friends. I don't know why this is important for writing, but it is.
- Don't leave the door closed. Before you stop for the day, document a new task to complete. A next step.
- Carry a notebook everywhere and write in it often.
- Ask questions.
- Don't apologize. Don't attempt perfection. Just write.