Getting What You Want

After a conversation with a friend yesterday, I have been thinking about how one gets what one wants.

The first step, of course, is to figure out WHAT you want.

I know what I want. I want to be a writer. To spend my life writing, to write until I am 94…or older!…to write book after book after book, books that readers treasure, books that readers buy extra copies of to give to their brothers and nieces.

Not everyone is this focused. In fact, I am not always this focused. As I have said before, if you followed me around for a few days, you’d think that my goals were to drink double-tall, nonfat lattes in as many venues as possible, to master the game of Spider Solitaire, to watch more inspirational YOUTUBE videos than anyone else, and to read as many mystery novels as possible.

Sometimes getting what you want means COMMITTING to what you want. So in addition to these other pursuits, every day I commit myself to writing. I write in a fat Everyman’s journal in the early morning (ordered from Lee Valley). I also write in a lightweight notebook that I carry with me wherever I go. I carry two notebooks, in fact, one in my bookbag and one in my purse. I have a really small moleskin notebook that goes in my smallest purse. I never go anywhere without a notebook as one never knows when a tire will go flat, or a daughter won’t show up at the school entrance on time, or a half hour will simply show up, willy nilly, perhaps along with a latte.

(It’s a little amazing to not be teaching classes and to still be so busy, but there it is.)

If you don’t know what you want to do with your life, you might start by reading The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. If you really want to go around the bend with me, you might start by reading Your Heart’s Desire by Sonia Choquette (and WRITING in it, actually doing the exercises!). You might start by committing to writing in a notebook for 15 minutes a day in order to explore what you want. (Imagine that what you want, right now, is to find out what you want.)

One more word about The Slight EdgeA friend called a few weeks ago and said, “I’m reading The Slight Edge. Thanks so much for recommending it.” I had never heard of it. “You’re kidding,” my friend said. “I’m sure it’s your book. It’s what you do!” I said I would get a copy, and she insisted that I didn’t need to: “You already do all of it,” she said.

But (being the sort of person who will spend her last dollar on a book) of course I did buy it and I read it, all in one fell swoop, and now I am rereading it. The first read-through corresponded with my 14 year old’s meltdown, and I realized, fortuitously, that if I want to be be connected with Emma, with what is going on in her life, to talk with her and have those lines of communication open, then I have to spend some actual, quality time with her every day. We have to do fun things as well as things like getting meals eaten and clothes picked up and homework done. Every day.

I read the newspaper, and I do not believe that boundless good drops on our heads simply because we say a few affirmations. Bad people drive too fast, cancer attacks even the most positive-minded people, terrorists kidnap innocent children. But here I am, not in a car wreck, not kidnapped, cancer-free. I don’t have any excuse not to pursue my dreams. Being committed to my dreams is surely a better strategy than not being committed to them. What commitment looks like is daily practice.

There, that is my soap-box lecture for the day. I hope you enjoyed it.

“Imagination is the womb of your life. It is the place where your desires are nurtured and protected, where they are kept safe while they grow and develop. Your imagination expands your dreams until they can no longer be contained and must insist themselves into being. Imagination is the birthplace of all possibility.” -Sonia Choquette (59)

Day 18: My Writing Acrostic

I learned some things from this prompt, from POETRYisEVERYTHING — so I thought I’d share it on my blog. (I didn’t know that acrostics occur in Proverbs, Psalms, and Lamentations.) You’ll find my acrostic at the end.

PROMPT 18 – Acrostic Poem

Relatively simple acrostics may merely spell out the letters of the alphabet in order; such an acrostic may be called an ‘alphabetical acrostic’ or Abecedarius. These acrostics occur in the first four of the five songs that make up the Book of Lamentations, in the praise of the good wife in Proverbs 31, 10-31, and in Psalms 9, 10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119 and 145 of the Hebrew Bible.[3] Notable among the acrostic Psalms are the long Psalm 119, which typically is printed in subsections named after the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, each of which is featured in that section; and Psalm 145, which is recited three times a day in the Jewish services. Acrostics prove that the texts in question were originally composed in writing, rather than having existed in oral tradition before being put into writing.

Acrostic poetry was very common in medieval literature and often served to highlight the name of the poet or the patron who paid him. They were also used to make a prayer to a saint. You’ll find alphabet acrostic poems which are called Abecedarius poems in the first four of the five songs that make up the the Book of Lamentations. They praise the good wife in Proverbs. There are many Acrostic Psalms, the most notable is the very long Psalm 119 where each section is named after the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, the final chapter “A Boat, Beneath A Sunny Sky” is an acrostic of the real Alice’s name: Alice Pleasance Liddell. (Good trivia question to ask: What’s Alice’s full name….).

The Poem begins….

A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July –

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,

. . . and the poem continues from there…

When the muse moves you,
Runs her hands through your hair, pours
Ice down your spine,
Tickles you until you cry —
It isn’t her call what happens next. It’s yours.
Now is the moment in which to
Gallop in the direction of your dreams.