Second, really? Really am I sneezing this much? Anyone else, sudden allergy problems lately?
And now for my post. Well yesterday was week 2 of my mandatory creative time. I will admit that I didn't follow the exact schedule and started around 4:45 instead of 3, because I was spending some quality time with my Brad and my Lynn and my Claire. But I still made some crafties. I made three necklaces from some paper beads. I made the beads in high school. High school. So I made myself string them onto something, finally. And I will say that I love them.
All the bead stringing, along with the fact that the beads were made from magazine paper, i.e. paper with words on it, reminded me of a fantastic quote about writing, which led me to my second craft of the day. Unfortunately the exact quote is buried in the mess that I call my bedroom, but...Ooh wait, I found it on google:
"I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten--happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another." --Brenda Ueland
I love, love, love that wisdom. It is so true. I feel a genuine pang of envy whenever I pass a table of children in Sunday School or kindergarten, making necklaces of Fruit Loops. I honestly, literally stop in my tracks for a second every time, calculating the possibility of me being able to join them.
I want to feel that way about my writing, too, and I feel the best writing comes from writers who feel this way, not from writers who sit down with an agenda to teach the reader "How to eat spinach everyday and pretend to be happy about it," or some other self-help crap. There is plenty of self-help writing that can be the result of honest, cathartic writing. Writing about experiences, tears, sweat, how something was viewed when one was in a certain home, smelling a certain scent, thinking about a certain someone. Writing about conviction of God's presence as a result of feeling and raw, rough, weathered faith, instead of only as a logical reason for the existence of a higher power. Writing about how I'm not sure if I heard a few drops of rain on the skylight just now, but am now straining to hear more, hoping for my favorite, delicious weather this night. Writing about how cutting my hair two days ago was more than just a physical choice, but how it feels freeing to me. How it doesn't make me feel ugly, as many women fear, because men supposedly "love long hair." How it makes me feel more beautiful, confident, genuine than I did with a lion's mane of blonde tresses that turned heads. How I want to turn minds and hearts, too.
Recalling the quote inspired me to make a charm for my writing, a reminder as I create and hope to inspire, soothe, identify with and comfort my readers, however few or many there may now or someday be. Anne Lamott, my favorite writer ever, keeps a one-inch picture frame on her desk to remind herself to write short assignments, if nothing else. If you're too overwhelmed or scared to write a book, a chapter, then write a paragraph. Describe the cup of pencils on your desk, she instructs. Describe the feel of your cat's nose in the palm of your hand. Just write. Her other biggest instruction is to allow yourself to write "shitty first drafts." (If this is intriguing you, I highly recommend her book Bird by Bird. So good, friends.)
Since she has a picture frame, I decided to make a simple double strand of beads to hang on my wall, to remind me to enjoy writing. To write like a kind-ie, putting sticky Fruit Loops on yarn. The yarn always unravels, and the sugar sticks to it and to your fingers, and everything gets messier when you can't resist the tantalizing loops and start eating them and licking your fingers yet continue to string. But that is what I need to remember.
My girl Carolyn just made a comment that I was slacking on my "daily" Bailey duties, and then apologized because she feared I was having a bad week and maybe that was why I hadn't posted in a few days. I was partly being lazy, but I also have been having a rough month, and in the last few days I knew that writing would pull me out of the doldrums temporarily, but I waved off the thought and moped instead. The point is, though, that I need to keep stringing with these sticky fingers. That is where the best writing comes from. And even if it's not always fun to write, if this truly is my gift to the world (which sometimes I certainly fear it is not; I just finished watching Little Women with Riley--Beth tells Jo, as she's dying, that Jo is a great writer and Jo says, "I'm not a great writer" and Beth says, "You will be," and of course she goes on to publish the story of her sisters), if my words will be a mirror for others' hearts, then I need to keep writing them. Because I know as a reader, of Anne Lamott and so many others, that their words at times have been the most comforting mirror I could find. So whether it feels like a sticky mess or on other days just a lighthearted snack--sugary loops and a fashionable accessory, rain or shine I need to get back on the horse and type, scribble, create, bead, write.