Tag Archives: “daily pages”

Writing helps

img_7054I don’t know who I am. I don’t know how to be. I don’t know what’s next or even, sometimes, what’s come before. Even “where am I?” is a difficult question these days.

Writing helps.

If I let a few days pass without scribing my three pages, I come a little unmoored. It took a while to notice this. These unholy pauses are sometimes followed by a great volume of ink, often equal to the aggregate number of missed pages. Now I’ve instituted a ‘catch up routine’ — whenever I miss a day, I mark my notebook where I’d be had I written every day. And then I catch up.

It seems to matter.

Strangely, writing makes me feel better even when dedicated to identifying what’s bothering me. Turns out, knowing what’s bothering me even without remedy is preferable to being bothered and ignorant to cause.

Does anyone understand why this is so?

I’ll answer the above questions, out of curiosity? Can you?

Who am I?” All the labels hang like loose chads, so I’ll let Joni Mitchell’s words stand in as answer: “I am a woman of heart and mind, with time on her hands, no child to raise…”  Maybe?

How to be?” How to be with respect to writing, that is: Stay at it. Don’t let doubt in any of its guises derail you. The rest is detail: collect 18th century language; bounce between public risk and private assembly; keep assessing the story’s pace. Keep at it. Vanquish doubt.

Where am I?” I’ve lived at this address for 23 years and in this town since 1986, so it’s strange to feel like I don’t really belong here. Did I ever? And if not here, where? Having been uprooted every few years growing up, I wanted stability for my boys and this was a good town for them to grow up in. But now? And it’s not just the leaf blowers.

The state of our nation and our planet shove disorientation down my throat in a manner most vile. Is this country mine anymore? Will there be a coup? Who will take him and his cronies down and when? Knowing that MILLIONS of Americans share my shock and grief doesn’t alter the central fact of my fearful alienation. Where am I, indeed!

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Boston Climate March

I’ll leave you with Naomi Klein’s key note speech from the recent San Miguel’s writers conference. It is hair-raising in its precise measure of our perilous state but also galvanizing… perhaps the best political media I’ve taken in for weeks.

‘We don’t have four years,’ she says. ‘The planet doesn’t have four years’.

‘The entire political system has to change,’ she says, ‘We have to SWERVE.’ (What does that mean?)

‘It’s not enough to resist. We have to also build.’ How? How?

 

PS “Daily Pages” as developed by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way“‘

Five Things

YARN-bin

My friend Sarah Goodman (author of Ferry Ride and other books) approaches her journal writing with this structure lately —

Write five things —

  1. The Weather
  2. One thing I did well today (or, since I write early, yesterday)
  3. One thing I could have done better, and
  4. and 5. Two things I commit to doing today (that I might not otherwise do).

The weather has always and naturally been noted on my pages, but the other four things are new and helpful.  The evaluation of things done is structured perfectly for a self-flagellant like me — notice, it does not say, “one thing I did well, one thing I did badly“!!!  This teeny exercise helps me note the things I am accomplishing, which I tend to skip over.  It also allows the discussion of things I am doing badly (mostly in the parenting department) to take a softer tone.

The last two things are also helpful and decidedly different from items on a To Do List.  Now, I am a big fan of having a To Do List, and when I can find mine, it is helpful (that speaks volumes, doesn’t it?!)  Lately, I have been housing my To Do List in a beautifully hardbound daily calendar — a strategy which helps with the location bit (the clip board didn’t work, the post its didn’t work, and it’s too much script to include in my weekly APPOINTMENT calendar).  The TO DO items occupy the entire seven days, without reference to particular days of the week.  This tends to encourage more Long Term Goals making the list.  I can easily refer back to earlier weeks and bring forward things which did not get done and which are still important.  I cross off items with enthusiasm.  This may be childish, but for instance, “Pay Sales Tax”, was on my list every week since Newton Open Studios in May, and when I finally did it a couple of weeks ago (Note to Self — it only took two minutes online), I got to cross off about 10 entries!!

But here’s the difference with the “Two Things I Commit To Do”:  To Do Lists tend to be lengthy and aspirational to some degree, whereas the Two Items are more like commitments.  Try it.  It’s different.

Yesterday one of my two items was to sort the bins under my studio desk and put more fabric on the curb.  I did not do it.  (I DID call the friend, though, which was the other item).  So, TODAY, again, I put that on my list and make myself even more accountable by posting the intention here!

The yarn pictured above was dumped out of a bin which we needed to take on our canoe camping trip.  Without this commitment, it might sit there for months!!  The other bins have been recently sorted, during my Big Sorting weeks, but have no where to go.  This poses an organizational challenge that is going to require many, many daily plugs of effort.

EMUS-and-COWS

In keeping with the spirit of The Five Things, here is the commission for a boy’s baby blanket, finished!

SATIN-binding

The satin binding is a crucial element.  My two boys (and I) used the soft satin bindings of their (my) baby blankets for comfort, rubbing them while sucking a binky (in my case, my thumb).