Thursday, March 29, 2012

Steel Grey Days

It is a steel-grey morning, the kind that reminds me of the music of Songs: Ohia, slow, aching, raw. I’m tired today, and cranky, and damn it, I don’t feel like writing one single word on one single page!

But I am.

“I have forced myself to begin writing when I’ve been utterly exhausted, when I’ve felt my soul as thin as a playing card, when nothing has seemed worth enduring for another five minutes…and somehow the activity of writing changes everything. Or appears to do so.” - Joyce Carol Oates

Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. I heard of trick you can play on your mind, you tell yourself that you are only going to write for 5 minutes, "Just 5 minutes, and then you can do whatever you want." The trick is to just get you started, and then you look up 40 minutes later to see you have been writing the whole time.

On Sunday I was doing the most torturous, grueling activity in the world: editing. I sat down and looked at my manuscript which I was sure was utter trash. I edited a line, maybe two, then I had to get up and get away from it. I forced myself back in the chair and edited a little more, then got up again. I did this for a couple of hours. I told myself, "just a little more, just get through this paragraph, look, you are almost to the end of the chapter, finish that and you can be done for the day." And I did. It wasn’t a group of gleaming, perfectly written paragraphs afterwards, but they were better. Progress, not perfection, right? The moral of the story is: taking things chunk by chunk works.

 “I had to write from five to seven a.m. because the kids would get up and start running around. That went on for about eight years.” - Elmore Leonard

I think every writer has this dream about the perfect writer’s life. They are living in a beach house, or a cabin in the woods, or in a castle in the sky. For me, it’s a specific house that I pass by when I go for walks. It's on the corner of a very nice neighborhood with flowers, birds and scampering squirrells. The house is yellow, like my grandfathers, but it's an Easter yellow house with white shudders. There is a grassy lawn, with delicate landscaping, a perfect mix of wild and tamed, and it's completely shaded by a giant tree. I like to imagine that I am sitting at the top right window. I am looking outside and working on my latest book while sipping a cappacino and watching the walker (me) pass by. I love watching the world out of my writers window in my yellow house, its such a great fuel for stories.

"If you’re not writing a page a day, then nothing is going to happen. But if you make sure to write a page a day it becomes a habit, and before long you  have a lot of pages piled up." -John Grisham

Writing is hard.

All of the inspirational, heartwarming stories I can tell you can’t sugarcoat that fact. It is one of the hardest things I know. But, it is also one of the most rewarding too. Funny, how the most difficult things in life can be the most fulfilling. That’s why I want to make it a daily haibit. I feel like it is helping me become a better person, I feel more enriched, and fortified with vitamins and minerals. And...if  I could inspire one person in this world then I have done what my deepest heart wants me to do on this earth. To inspire others I first need to inspire myself.

“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” - Mary Heaton Vorse

It’s so romantic to think of writing and inspiration as a love that shows up at random, one morning – out of a dream, and you spend a perfect day together, full of soul-to soul conversation, long walks in the park, and lingering romantic meals. While the sun sets, turning the sky to fire, you kiss passionately, leaving you breathless and trembling. Then, the next day they are gone without saying a word. 

Sorry, writing just isn’t as painfully romantic as all that.

It is more like a good marriage, some days are romantic, some days you want to stab them in the face, but most days are plain good. You love them, you are committed, and you share your life together including all of the ups and downs. It is something you have to work at, every day. But it's totally worth it, because it's a source of love and strength that you carry within you all of the time, a flame that keeps you warm and can inspire you - even on steel-grey mornings.

“I must go on, I cant go on. Ill go on.” - Samuel Beckett


  1. Where do you come up with these stunning quotes, these metaphors, these amazing posts?? You are such a good writer...seriously. And thank you as always for a post that motivates, that inspires, that fans the flame. I appreciate your words more than I can say!!!

  2. Thank you soooo much for your kind words. I really don't know where this stuff comes from. I've been collecting the quotes for some time, and wanted to write a blog post with all of those ones in it. I just wrote whatever spewed out of my head when I read each quote. I'm glad I can help-even a little. Writing is such a difficult task, and it tends to be a very lonely one too, I think inspiration is something we all can use.


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