Climbing Those Mountains

There are two basic hurdles or mountains one must climb in order to succeed with writing. One is successfully dredging the ideas from the deep abyss that is our minds and transferring them successfully to the page. Two is being able to look over those ideas that we saved and secured and polishing them until they shine.

My biggest hurdle is the first one. These ideas come and go as swiftly and gracefully as the wind. I listened to a TED talk hosted by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love, (https://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius)  and she addressed some of these issues. Gilbert explained:

I had this encounter recently where I met the extraordinary American poet Ruth Stone, who’s now in her 90s, but she’s been a poet her entire life and she told me that when she was growing up in rural Virginia,she would be out working in the fields, and she said she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. And she said it was like a thunderous train of air. And it would come barreling down at her over the landscape. And she felt it coming, because it would shake the earth under her feet. She knew that she had only one thing to do at that point, and that was to, in her words, “run like hell.” And she would run like hell to the house and she would be getting chased by this poem, and the whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper and a pencil fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. And other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she’d be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it and she said it would continue on across the landscape, looking, as she put it “for another poet.” And then there were these times — this is the piece I never forgot — she said that there were moments where she would almost miss it, right? So, she’s running to the house and she’s looking for the paper and the poem passes through her, and she grabs a pencil just as it’s going through her, and then she said, it was like she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail, and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. And in these instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact but backwards, from the last word to the first (Tedtalk.com). 

This is exactly the same battle I (and I can imagine every writer) fight(s). It doesn’t help that I have a horrible memory, and if I don’t catch the idea and expand on it then and there, it’s gone forever. At times like these, I feel as if opening a new and ominous word document on the computer is too ‘official.’ My idea is not fleshed out enough for the consistency of typed letters, and neat rows on the cleanest digital white background. If the idea that I am working with is the initial spark to the great bonfire, then it is worked on in notebooks and scrap pieces of paper (that are then shoved between other pieces of paper and sometimes lost forever anyway). To help with this, I have heard that a lot of writers keep an idea notebook or journal with the bolts of genius quickly jotted down for later retrieval. Most of them never come to fruition, but at least they’re saved for later contemplation. Also, if there is a concrete writing schedule built, then these ideas can be worked on more quickly and worked on at a faster pace because I’m not waiting for chance and luck to strike. 

The idea that I can passively sit and wait for inspiration to strike also doesn’t work for me. It is extremely rare that I am in the middle of doing something mundane, and I am then struck with the greatest story idea. I had one great “Ah Ha!” moment a few years ago, and I’m still waiting for another to strike. That was one of the best writing moments in my life. I was thinking about the fact that I have to constantly and actively think about it. 

It was one evening while I was cleaning my kitchen that the opening lines from Bemelman’s Madeline popped into my head, “There was an old house in Paris all covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.”  As I was scrubbing dishes, the idea of using that premise to write about my own family and childhood suddenly popped into my head. I turned Bemelman’s lines into “In an old house in Vienna, all covered in vines, lived three little girls who thought they were lions.” I was extremely excited about this idea, and would not stop writing until the story was complete. I eventually made a little book of it and sent it to my older for her birthday. That was one of the best writing moments in my life, and it hasn’t happened before or since. Other than that precious night, I have to constantly and actively think about writing. 

 

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The Wandering Writer

Hello! Thank you for taking the time to read my first post. I’m so excited to share this journey with you. Writing can be such a lonely endeavor, and we as writers can be severely critical of ourselves. It is important to connect with others to encourage, inspire, and learn.

So let’s jump in!

The title of today’s blog post is appropriately entitled Wandering Writer because I found, after a number of unproductive years, that getting out, or carving out a strict ‘writing zone’ in your home is critical in achieving any writing goals. My favorite places to write are the libraries close by and sometimes a coffee shop, though I feel obligated to purchase something in order to use the space and the internet connection. Because I live in a very small space (I bought a trailer two years ago in honor of the tiny house movement), I have found it extremely difficult to declare a section of my place a writing zone. There is also something about being out in public that keeps me on task. I don’t feel like I can procrastinate on Netflix, Facebook, or Pinterest when I’m sitting at a table or cubicle. Also, there’s not as much distraction in these places. I don’t feel pressured to face the pile of dishes that glare at me from the kitchen sink, or the pile of laundry sitting next to my bed. I am forced to face that ominous blank page.

I also equate home with fun and relaxation. Who can be productive when you’re sitting on a comfy couch, under a fuzzy blanket, and listening to the whirr of the newly loaded dishwasher? I can’t. At home, I feel entitled to put off those pesky to-do lists and simply relax. Netflix seems to beckon much louder from home than it does from the library or coffee shop.

I have also found that it is important to physically schedule some writing time into my day. If I say, “I should,” that simply does not give me enough motivation to face the writing. I phrase it as “I am going to write at this time for at least this long,” just like going to work, eating dinner, or working out. It is happening because it is habit and part of the daily schedule. There is no doubt that I have to do it.

Writing groups on Facebook are also great motivators and reminders that I should be working on my chosen craft. I am hoping Adelie Ink will join the ranks of said pages, but there are a number of great Facebook pages that post daily prompts, helpful articles, and reviews on new books recently published.

The inspiration and means are so easily attainable these days that it’s hard to find excuses NOT to write. I hope this post motivates you to get out, find a quiet nook, and get some writing done! Let me know! I want to hear from you.