I was alone for Christmas. Despised and rejected due to an unexpected gift…a touch of flu. Not wanting to spread the joyless gift to my unsuspecting relatives and friends I remained at home. Alone. I refused to feel sorry for myself. I decided to be fully present in the moment of my seclusion. I cozied up with a blanket and hot cup of tea and my faithful companion Esme and immersed myself in movies on Netflix. I watched Romantics Anonymous and enjoyed its charm thoroughly. But now what? I had not including afternoon naps of wellness at least 10 more hours to fill my home- alone Christmas Day. As the feelings of loneliness and self pity threatened to overwhelm me, I chose instead to plan Family Day in February. I sent out save-the-date evites and planned a delicious menu. Stuffed Chicken Breast, Beef Wellington, Stuffed Baked Potatoes, Orange Glazed Carrots, Ginger Garlic Green Beans, fruit and cheese and trifle for dessert. Yum! I would plan it to be a buffet. Family did call before dinner to see how I was. I could hear the fun and business of Christmas Day in the background…wishing I was there and enjoying the delicious smells of turkey and stuffing roasting in the oven. I wished all well and poured myself some gingerale. More movies…more planning the menu for February Family Day and many naps later I made it 10 p.m. on Christmas Day. Esme looked at me expectantly…outside for a quick pee, a bedtime treat of dried liver, than off to bed. I did it. Christmas Alone. The world did not end. Remarkable!
I found engaging in Free Falls the best way to get into the zone of writing. Read something for inspiration. Look at a photo. Hear a snippet of someone else’s conversation or suggest a character setting and problem and then for 5 to 10 minutes write like a fool. Do not edit, revise or worry about the best word right now. Just splat your brain down onto the page. If you are by yourself set a timer. At Haliburton School of the Arts our instructor, Catherine Graham, read a passage from Ralph Keyes’ The Courage to Write and then said Free Fall write for the next 10 minutes.
I thought about writing…I thought that writing felt selfish like time away from others. I thought of mothers and how they can be very selfish about their own child. Mothers will put their child above all other children deserving or not, husbands, parents, friends and so on. Mothers are not cursed or shamed or questioned when they do this. It is considered natural. No matter how destructive some of their choices are in putting their child first, society condones these very selfish acts and then calls it self-sacrificing…a virtuous act of motherhood. I thought I must treat my writing like my child. I must put my writing above all other obligations, loves, passions etc in my life. I should live for writing. F or now I am not published as yet, so I cannot claim to write to live. Yes, I must do anything to live to write.
I will post my revised and edited piece about writing being my child soon. Haven’t thought of a title for it yet.
When I am stuck for writing now I go to my writer’s notebook and look for something to twig my interest or inspire me. Then I put on my online timer for 10 minutes. On your mark get set go! Perhaps this photo will inspire me today…morning sun, reflecting lake, clouds drifting carrying away the dreams of the night, the ball of the sun skipping like a rock over smooth water…..Give it a try. On your mark, get set, Free Fall!
July 14th, 2013
Morning time. The house is quiet. Finally. I know it is important for me to write everyday and to carry a writer’s notebook wherever I go. Randy Bachman said his writer’s toolkit is the kids’ left over crayons and serviettes in the glove compartment of his car. He as a songwriter knows that inspiration will strike and if you don’t write it down then and there…you will forget it. So now I will carry a little notebook and pen in my purse. This is a good act of commitment to writing.
The other act of commitment is to decide a regular time to write. Some writer’s are morning writers and some are afternoon or evening writers. My creative time of day I have not yet decided. The necessity of making a living dictates that my time belongs to others from 8 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday. I know in my work life I get creative at 4 p.m. when many people have left for the day. The building becomes quiet and all the crazy energy goes…I can think, put on the music I enjoy sans judgement or annoying others…and all resources are available… no waiting for the photocopier, printer etc. No interruptions except for the cleaning staff and then I feel like I am in their way. But we find our way to work around each other.
It seems I need my spaces to be free of busy energy from others. I can think and imagine. I can talk out loud or reread what I have written out loud without bothering anyone. So I think I need to find times in the day that are quiet…settled. I can breathe then more deeply. Create more freely. On weekends mornings are best. After two Keurig coffee’s and cereal, after the dog gets walked I can start. Weekdays will be a challenge. So many things to accomplish upon arrival at home.
But this is a commitment to writing. It is one of the things I must accomplish upon arriving home. Rituals are important. Maybe I will arrive home from work, have a cup of Maharaja Chai Oolong tea, walk the dog, start dinner and while it cooks, write. This is a possibility. Yes this is a commitment I can make.
I just completed an exhilarating and intensive week of creative writing with an amazing group of creative writers from all over Ontario under the instruction of Catherine Graham, published poet in Canada and the UK. We received inspirational instruction in the mornings and were given 90 minutes to create a piece to share in writer’s workshop. I created 5 creative writing pieces that focussed on a good beginning, character development, dialogue, monologue and finally a poem.. I stayed at the wonderful Heather Lodge near Minden. The hosts Aaron and Connie were very kind and accommodating to my dietary needs. The beautiful scenery of the Haliburton Highlands with its multiple lakes, white water rapids, wildlife and verdant hills was perfect for delivering a creative ambiance in which to write. I will post my creative writing pieces now revised and edited with the advice of workshop members and Catherine Graham. I hope you enjoy them.