This morning I spent more time not writing at this computer than I did writing. Way more. I must have surfed and procrastinated for 45 minutes before I got myself going. And now I have to get in the shower to start my day. Often writing looks like for me. A lot of procrastination. A promise to myself that if I just write out a few words, then I can quit for the day. I’ll write the few words and then feel like I can make that word count for the day. It’s then that I get into a groove or ‘writerhead’ as Kristin Bair O’Keefe calls it. And it’s often then that it’s too late. The rest of the day I’ll think about the writing I did and the writing I wished I’d done. Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing and why I’m putting myself through this every morning. I try to imagine what else I’d do besides sit here and muster the courage to write. That’s the place when I remember the truth. I can’t see myself not writing anymore. I worked so hard to become a writer and now somehow I am. It’s in the fabric I’m cut from and ripping out the threads of writing from my life might unravel everything.
I recently read a post by up and coming YA novelist Jodi Casella that is ringing in my mind’s ears. She describes a book with people living through a plague locked up behind walls so they don’t spread the disease to others. They just wait their turn, wondering when it will be time for them to die. Lately, many of those I love have been passing away. Just this week, a dear friend and adopted grandfather for my children died after a brief time with the plague of our time: cancer.
It’s clear like looking into a mountain lake where my friend Rich loved to hike – writing is something I’m doing while I wait my turn. And it’s something that somehow makes my mortality bearable. So whether I am cracking out my 500 words or just that one sentence I promised myself, writing makes a difference to me.
That’s why I keep doing it and that’s why I can let my words for the day be ‘enough’ even though the writing will never be finished. It frightened me before that I have so many words to write and may not live to see them all down on paper. I’m beginning to accept that I won’t get them down. And I don’t even want to. If I got them all down, what would I do while I wait for my turn?