Me and My Inertia…

“If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent, whatever that is. Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me if I do? You’re a human being, with a unique story to tell, and you have every right. If you speak with passion, many of us will listen. We need stories to live, all of us. We live by story. Yours enlarges the circle.” ― Richard Rhodes

I’d like to say that it’s fear that stops me from writing. Fear sounds so BIG, so sort of cool. Oooh, I caaann’t! I’m afraaaid! I can pretend I’m that cute girl in the scary movie, the one running through the forest in high heels. Epic fear.

But I’m not really sure that it’s fear that gets in my way. Vague, incoherent fears perhaps underlie my awesome ability to procrastinate, my inspiring lack of the ability to prioritize, my death-defying grip on inertia. But what if it’s just inertia?

And this, of course (I admit), from someone who does get quite a bit of writing done. Feeling overwhelmed by life and its demands this summer, however, I have not been getting writing done. Which is not to say I haven’t read 30 novels and played many, many games of Spider Solitaire.

At the end of my life, I don’t want to see a ledger with one side all weighted down with great TV shows, great novels, and great card games. I’m not alone here (I’m pretty sure, as I have also been closely observing three 21-year-old women all summer). So, how many hours do you spend watching television or playing games on your very-smart cell phone — or both?

At the end of your life do you want to say, I meant to … fill in the blank with whatever it is for you (get healthy, quit smoking, lose weight, spend a summer on a sailboat, learn to play the piano, write a book)? Wouldn’t it be cool if you could say you’ve done those things? Were you afraid to do them, or did you just never get started? Getting started is easy, and you can practice getting started, every day, even if all you have is 5 minutes or (my favorite) 15…

I know, I know, when you’re overwhelmed with life, changing your life does not feel like an easy thing. What’s that old saying? When you’re up to your neck in alligators it’s hard to remember that your job was to drain the swamp.

It’s time for me to reread Virginia Valian’s essay, “Learning to Work,” which is, courtesy of Theo Pauline Nestor, available on-line, here:

Learning to Work

I recently read Theo Pauline Nestor’s Writing Is My Drink and I am happy to HIGHLY recommend it. Among other things, Nestor reminded me of a very important essay that my friend, Priscilla Long, made me read years ago when I was struggling to write my doctoral dissertation. Here’s a link to the article, from Nestor’s blog: Virginia Valian’s “Learning to Work.”   It is an article that all writers–especially writers who are standing in their own way–should read.


Finding a Voice

“Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.” ― Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose

I was killing time in a book store earlier, and I picked up Theo Pauline Nestor’s Writing Is My DrinkIt is exactly the sort of book I find addictive: part memoir, part writing how-to. What I thought as I sucked up the print on the first few pages, was I should have written this book. 

All right, I didn’t have the alcoholic, single mother (my mother has never touched alcohol except to once — recently — take a sip of my Chardonnay and declare that it was not sweet, and she was married to my father for 58 years). But as a child I did have that feeling — at least at times — of trying to make myself very, very small so that no one would see me. I did have that feeling — at times — that no one could see me, no one could hear me, and no one would miss me if I disappeared. I don’t think I’m at all unique in this; in fact, I think that all of us have that feeling at one time or another. And writers, even more so.

Writing is a way of making oneself visible.

I didn’t buy the book (and I regret not having it, not being able to spend all evening reading it). I did, however, buy John Greene’s The Fault in Our Stars for one of my 20-year-olds. A young woman — a clerk — peeked over my shoulder and said, “If that’s a gift, wrap it with a box of tissues.” I asked her who she could compare to Tamora Pierce for one of my other girls, and I was treated to a 20-minute rave about a book … Title Escapes Me … but I bought that one, too. I have now bought a book for everyone living in my household.

My work here is done. 😉