Monday, February 18, 2013
It’s been a while since I’ve been here. In front of a blank page listening to the sound of the keyboard as I try to tell a story that isn’t in the form of an instruction manual or a marketing letter. You might call it a creative writing rut. I’ll just blame it on the opening of a new business, an untimely emergency appendectomy and an onslaught of holidays, all falling between October 28th and January 12th, better known as the toughest part of my year. But if I’m going to finish my memoir, a challenging task under the best of situations, I’m out of excuses and it’s time to get back to the creative business of creating.
Don’t ask me why I was reading it, but February’s issue of Cosmo had a little segment on how to get started on turning a goal into a habit, using writing a novel as the example. Timely and convenient for me, though I’m not sure about the majority of the Cosmo reading population. At any rate, they suggested finding something to act as the catalyst before you start writing each time. Something to connect to that will help mark the activity as a habit. Then pick a reward to give yourself at the end of the activity to reinforce your good behavior. Okay, I can do that. I feel a little like a puppy in training but I’ll give it a shot.
So this afternoon, I headed to the little exercise room next to my office. It doesn’t get much use these days because I now have my own giant exercise room, also known as Crowbar Cardio. But this tiny little corner holds my super-fancy yoga swing. Yes, yoga swing. As in yoga, not anything else you might be thinking. I figured it was as good a catalyst as any, if not pretty brilliant, all things considered. I would invert for a few minutes before writing. A good dose of blood to the brain would do the trick, it would raise my energy level and hopefully boost the creative mojo. I could definitely use some mojo. I hung there in the dark, in an upside-down, feeling a little like a bat, thinking creativity boosting thoughts, till my head felt a little swimmy, and then slowly pulled myself and walked carefully to the computer.
And then I stared at the screen. At the pages already written. At my notes, which were an interesting challenge to decipher. I wrote some more notes, a little more legibly this time. I rearranged some things on the screen. I wrote about three new sentences. An hour and a half slowly crawled by. It was hard. Part of me wanted to bolt out of the seat. But at the same time, it felt good. In that way that something really hard means, well, something. As I looked at the words on the page, I felt pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished so far, and optimistic about what lies ahead. I quit after 90 minutes. I was supposed to do two hours, but nobody’s perfect on the first go. I rewarded myself with a Girl Scout cookie. Okay, two. When the box is empty, I’ll have to come up with something else. When the going is tough, and it will be, I’ll have to come up with something bigger and better.
A few hours later, as I drove to the studio to get ready to teach class, I thought about today. I thought about writing a blog today, it is Monday after all, and I remembered that I once wrote about leaving Los Angeles and how it was kind of the end of a love affair – like I was breaking up with someone after a long relationship. It got me to thinking that writing is kind of like a great love affair, at least it is for me. It’s scary to find yourself in a great love affair. What if you fail? What if the words don’t come? It’s going to be hard and there will be days when you can’t write a word, don’t know how the page, let alone the chapter or the whole story, is going to end. But just like in a great love affair, you have to try, you have to persevere. You have to keep writing, even when you don’t know the next word. Because you don’t want to live without it. Every word, every sentence, no matter how awkward or faltering, is another piece of your story on the page. And, like a great love affair, when the sentences flow beautifully into one another like magic, as if they can’t run fast enough out of your fingers, every challenge becomes worth it and every fear falls away unfounded. And in those moments, life is just a little bit perfect.