Did you know you can stream radio stations on Alexa? I just discovered this and am thrilled. WQXR - a radio station out of New York - plays the best selection of classical music. The cats are meditative while a piece from Scheherazade plays.
We're in our house. Yes. OUR HOUSE. That still sounds a bit mystical, a bit sacred. I wake up in the middle of the night and look around. Yes, yes, we are home. There's much to do: floors to be refinished, electricians to be called, chimneys to be inspected, roofs to be patched and, eventually, replaced. I focus my attention on the garden and dream of flower beds and herbs, knowing full well that the walls need to be painted and we really should get a dining room table.
All in good time, I whisper.
But first, plants!
Of course I can't plant anything until April but I can dream. I've two plant catalogs on order and should arrive any day. I've drawn up one plan already and it's changed twice. What will go in the raised beds? Should we just plant roses? Will the neighbors ever know we get chickens? And there's the fence to contend with. It's there, only just, between us and the neighbors. It needs a face lift and the chain link along the back lane will be covered up. It will all be painted Ambleside Green, an authentic reproduction of the paint that Beatrix Potter painted her own garden gate at Hill Top Farm.
I spent the first week of January wondering of I was wasting my time writing, if I really was a writer after all. I hadn't really committed to writing since I finished that novel back in the Spring of last year and I now wondered if I was fooling myself. So I sat and I thought and I started writing. Just writing, not in a particular direction, and I found myself floating about with the idea of spending a year focusing on writing.
Not a particular project, not a particular style. Just writing. Putting pen to paper. I thought back to my first creative writing class when I went back to finish my degree. We were required to do Stream of Consciousness writing every single day during the six weeks of that course. It wasn't always easy but I was always amazed at what came out. At the end of the course, we were to go through our SOCs and glean from them any ideas that may become something more. And I remember my jaw dropping when I analyzed my free writing mind. Little tendrils of stories and essays germinated in that fertile soil and I highlighted at least half of what I'd written. Those pages are now tucked away somewhere in the craft room closet that looks more like a war zone than a closet but the essence of those pages nudges me to continue this practice.
And so I have and it's been wonderful. A whole floodgate has been opened and I've slowly shed some preconceived notions about myself and my writing and my entire creative process. It's amazing what two days of dedication will give you. Today I'm off and don't have to go back to work until Friday. I made out a tentative schedule and already I'm thinking it's too rigid. I want to free write without a timer and see where it takes me - not thinking of any work in particular, just to get the words that are jumbled up inside my head out and into the open so I can sift through them and see what's there.
I'm re-reading Natalie Goldberg and letting the truth of cultivating a writing practice finally - finally - sink deep into my hands and I'm amazed at all I'm relearning as I continue to read and write and let the words flow free.
Instead of accumulating, as I thought it might, this practice is helping me to shed some things I'd come to cling to. It's allowing me to push aside things I'd so desperately grasped that I'd not had any hands left to reach for what was needed. It's been a strange bit of cleansing, this truth or dare, and though in many ways I'm relieved I'm also a bit raw from the releasing. But it is good, Gentle Readers, it is very, very good.
Our creative processes are unique and abuzz with things to do and see and want and need. But what we must do - the key to that phrase is the word MUST - is let go of the things we think we need to be doing or the things we think we should be doing and, instead, do the things we must do. The things that, no matter what else occupies our attention, we are always thinking about. Or, even better, the things we thing we're hopeless at, the things that we stop and wonder, "Am I really cut out to do that at all?" and we let them go and we wander around and finally we sit and we start and we realize that those things are a part of us whether we like it or not and they will not ever let us entirely go.
Happy New Year, Dear One.
Has 2019 brought to you any bright epiphanies?