An announcement. A scary announcement. As part of my intention to Live Fully Now, I will write 8-10 hours a week. This does not include writing emails or letters or even writing in my journal, but it does include writing posts on this blog. It means starting a new writing project. That sounds like a simple enough statement, but let me unpack it a bit. First of all, there is the commitment to write--a commitment I am not only making to myself, but I am announcing it to anyone reading this blog. Underneath this commitment is an understanding that I am not living fully if I am not living as a writer. I have been published a few times, but my one attempt at a book is still in manuscript form with no book contract in the offing. Even so, I have known I am a writer since I was in the 6th grade.
Two mothers who had volunteered to organize a school newspaper asked me to write a poem for the first edition, and I remember feeling pleased about that until they said they would wait while I wrote it. I sat at my desk, and they sat in the empty classroom with me and chatted with each other and waited for me to write a poem. I knew there was something wrong with the notion of poetry on demand. I knew that wasn't the way I worked or felt my way into inspiration. I knew they had no idea what it was to be a writer, but somehow I did. I managed to write a poem, and I recall not being totally unhappy with it--until it appeared in the school newspaper, and I discovered they had edited it and in my mind, changed the whole meaning of it, damaging my integrity as a writer! That experience in an upside down way confirmed to me even more that I am a writer.
Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I do what the writer Ann Beattie says she does. She vacuums instead of writes. I have been doing that a lot this last year, and that's why I need to state clearly that I am wearing my writer's hat this year. I need to remember what writer Sophy Burnham's spiritual director said to her, "Did you ever consider that God puts longings in our hearts in order that we execute them?"
But here's the next part of the scary announcement: What should I write? Well, that's what I have been grappling with these days. What's next? What now? And that's what the mess on my desk is all about. I have been reading notebooks, a stack of notebooks full of snippets of ideas and half started projects. I have browsed my files and my bookshelves. I have read journal entries and looked at past blog posts. I have meditated. I have brainstormed with myself, jotting down themes and possible titles. I have addressed the question, "What book do I want to read? What book if I saw it in the book store would I wish I had written myself?" I have paid attention to where my energy and engagement seems to be. What material will reinforce my intention to Live Life Fully?
I think I have an answer and a direction, but then comes the next part of the scary announcement: beginning! Sophy Burnham in her book For Writers Only offers this wisdom.
When I am happiest, I write almost every day. For long periods, however, my time is taken. Days pass...weeks. Then I forget all over again how to write. I forget I can begin. I forget I ever once began. At times like these, then, fear and doubt must be fought with all the weapons in our arsenal. These include: affirmations, prayer, stillness, trusting, waiting, walking, reading, not reading. Writing about my fear and writing this book now to remind myself of how creation comes."
I will begin. I am beginning. I am beginning, however, with an additional intention that comes with some degree of wisdom, I think. A reminder to be gentle with myself, to remember that life happens, and an intention is a hope, a plan, a work in progress, but not a rule measured and punished. So far this week I have been wearing the writer's hat for just over 6 hours, so I seem to be on my way. I am keeping the question Avez-vous ecrit aujourd'hui? (Have you written today?) in front of me.
What about you? What's next? What now? What needs to begin yet again? Or for the first time? What needs to be part of your life for you to know that you are living life fully?