Saturday, January 14, 2012

Little Bits of the Writing Life

It's feeling like a writing life again.

My life has always been a writing life, but there have been days -- seasons, weeks, months, years -- when I've had to fight so hard to get the writing in there, somehow shoe-horned into the cracks and crevices of everything else that's more urgent, more practical, more necessary, that I tend to forget just how deep the writing heart goes.

All those other practical things still exist, but in the last few weeks I inexplicably feel I've made peace with two facts:

1) I may never have a season where I don't write in the cracks and crevices, so it's time to embrace that rather than complain about it and

2) I will always write.

And with the hugging to my chest of those two little truths: Bam! Suddenly I am writing and loving it, loving every drop of it, even on days when there are only drops.

Here are some things I've loved about the writing life lately:

* New notebooks.

I got four of them for Christmas. The three composition books from my friend Erin have turned into what I call my "everyday" books. Not journals exactly, but the notebooks I go to for first-moments-in-the-morning writing. I'm writing something every morning. Snippets, lists, lines. Bits of scenes. Poetry. Lots of poetry right now.

* Yes, poetry! Lots of it coming in ways big and small. Some of the best poems are the small ones. Suddenly everything seems to be food for poetry. The Duke Ellington music we're dancing to in the kitchen. The onions I'm cutting up for dinner. (Okay, lots of kitchen inspiration right now.)

* A writing friend who not only gives me composition books, but cheers me on in my writing endeavors...even in the wee small hours when I should be sleeping. So thankful for Erin, who is also committing to writing more this year (and also getting off to a wonderfully creative start). I love the ways we encourage each other in the endeavor.

* Finding a note my emerging writer-daughter had left herself on the dining room table. A scrap of paper which read something like "A good title for a Christmas story -- The Baby is the Star of the Show."

* Teaching poetry and loving how it gives me new eyes on old poems. The sweet girl is memorizing "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" by William Butler Yeats. She seems surprised by how easily she's learning it, but considering it's been on our living room wall her whole life and I used to sing it to her when she was a baby, somehow I'm not. What is surprising me...the little things that have jumped out at me as I thoughtfully peruse the lines on the lookout for things to point out to a nine year old. I've always loved the music of this poem (the reason I set it to a tune) but though I've loved it for more than twenty years, it had never dawned on me until this past week how wonderful its assonance is and just how many double-lettered words are contained in the poem, which also makes it a visual delight. Take a look: "Innisfree" itself has two n's and two e's, but there's also small, wattles, will, bee, dropping, glimmer, noon, linnet's, lapping, deep. There may be more ~ that's just off the top of my head. It's really an amazing feat, how he chooses those words and how they make music.

* Writing prompt sites. I am especially enjoying oneword and the One-Minute Writer, both perfect places to land when you're just looking for a quick burst of playful inspiration.

But best of all, I'm writing again, every day. Not just work-related things or reviews, though still doing those too. I'm working on fiction again (dare I call it a novel)? I'm writing poetry. And last week I started fleshing out what I think and hope could be a very promising non-fiction project.

Do I have any more time to write than before? Nope. But I've decided the burning in my bones and the stories calling out to me both deserve a response. Nothing in my life has really changed but me. Time, work, circumstances, stresses, joys, schedules, ministry, family life, ups and downs, laughter, tears, not enough sleep...yep, they're all still there. The only thing that's changed is that I've decided this is my year to stop wistfully wishing I could spend more time writing and instead actually do it. Even in the cracks and crevices.

And so far, I'm loving this decision.


Erin said...

What an inspiring post, Beth! And so glad I can be a boost to your writing spirit, as you most certainly are to mine. Two weeks in, this year seems extremely promising. :)

I've probably mentioned this before, but are you familiar with the song "The Isle of Innisfree"? It's not Yeats' words - the writer was a guy named Richard Farrelly - and he meant "Innisfree" as a general term for all of Ireland rather than the specific place Yeats was writing about, but it's a really lovely song, and definitely high on my list of songs about people missing their hometowns, which is such a prevalent theme in Irish music.

It's going to be so exciting to see what your budding storyteller has in store. It's clear that your love of words has definitely rubbed off on her!

Here's to a wonderful writing year for us all!

Beth said...

It does seem like a promising writing year. ;-)

I don't think I know the song by Richard Farrelly, but I think I might have stumbled across a reference to it the other day when I was searching for images of the actual island of Innisfree. I wonder if it's on youtube...the song, I mean. I shall have to look.

My budding storyteller has a lot of creativity these days. I'm looking forward to seeing what she comes up with in years to come too. ;-)

Here's to many more writing hours this year!