To Really Commit to My Writing

“In order to do creative work in any of the arts and sciences you must go through long or short spells of not knowing what is going on, of being irritated, and not being able to find the cause, of being willing to work as hard as you can and what happens isn’t valuable enough, isn’t good enough, isn’t what you meant to do, what you meant to say. Then, if you can bear it, if you don’t quit and move to Canada or call up Joe and go hiking for two weeks or quit your job or get a divorce or do anything else to relieve the pain and it is pain, it’s really irritating, it puts you in a bad mood, you are irritable to children and can’t focus on anything and keep changing your mind, if you can put up with it and just go right on sitting down at that desk every day no matter how much it seems to be an absurd and useless and boring thing to do, the good stuff will suddenly happen.”

–Ellen Gilchrist

What would it take for you to really commit to your writing? What would you have to give up? What would you have to change?

Comments

  1. Karla says

    One thing I know for sure, and that is I can write no matter what else is going on in my life. I can write when my husband is dying. I can write when I have work deadlines looming over me. I can write when my twelve year old is in the next room practicing his sniper attacks with his neon orange nerf rifles. I can write when I am so tired that I almost fall asleep in my chair. It used to be that I used every excuse I could possibly find to procrastinate in my writing. Now I actually use writing to procrastinate on the other things in life I need to do. Maybe that’s the definition of actually being committed.

    • Laura Davis says

      Karla, I’m sure many reading this forum will envy your capacity to write anywhere, anytime. It’s survival and self-expression and a core need for you now. Take advantage of that–and just keep writing!

    • beverly Boyd says

      Love this line:
      Now I actually use writing to procrastinate on the other things in life I need to do!
      Productive procrastination. I like it!

    • Jenna says

      I love the line about writing while your 12 year old is performing sniper attacks on you.

      I agree with Wendy, it is inspirational too.

      • Karla says

        Oh, heavens, I would never allow my son to shoot me with a nerf rifle. He’s in the next room with his bedroom door closed pretending his closet door is some kind of enemy. I just hear the whirl of the battery powered gun and the little oomph of the nerf bullets hitting his wall or door.

        A side note: because I work with women who have been threatened with guns, I would not allow him to own guns until he was 11. Then he was allowed to buy nerf guns with his own money, and he promptly chose the largest, loudest ones that he could get.

        • Jenna says

          Karla,
          Apologies for not reading your piece properly.

          I can’t remember when we first allowed my son a toy gun. Being in the UK I’ve not come into contact with real guns very much. I know several people that own guns but its not something I’d ever want to have in my own home.

    • Magali says

      Karla, I love your last two sentences, so funny and so true! I think I’m there, as well. What it took to place writing in first priority is to steal time away from many other things. I perfected that last November during National Novel Writing Month. The dishes went unwashed, I failed to call many friends, I sacrificed a lot, but it was all worth it for the writing. I can’t do it to such a large extent all the time, but it felt awesome to give myself permission to justify all writing time being time well spent. Congratulations to you!

    • jo says

      Hi Karla – This is so inspirational! I love how you are so committed to your writing that the stresses of life don’t stop you. That is amazing!

    • says

      Karla,
      You are my heroine! I so admire all the things you do and especially your ability to write about them with such candor. Thank you for sharing.

    • Jane says

      Karla, I can procrastinate about anything, anything at all. So it is very amazing to me how you are true to your writing commitment, in spite of any and all distractions. Congratulations!

    • says

      Karla…. Thank you for the inspiration your commitment gives me. I am going to work towards being as committed as I can be and hopefully one day can say that I can write no matter what else is going on!

    • says

      I love that Karla! Using writing to procastinate from doing other stuff. Today, I so relate to that. I also wrote through my brother’s endless doctor appointments (rehab, speech therapy, neurologists, psychologists, and AIDS center drug trials). Now that I think of it, I never wrote more passionately. You inspire me a great deal.

  2. Autumn Vandiver says

    About a year ago, my brother and I were talking on the phone about our lives as writers. I was lamenting to him that I could not develop a consistent practice, that I wrote haphazardly, in fits and starts, and always needed a deadline to motivate me. My practice was choppy and not a priority in my life, and this nagged at me and made me feel like a fraud.

    He, on the other hand, woke up and did yoga every morning except Saturday, and then wrote for four hours every afternoon. Like a boss. I was so jealous. I knew that this couldn’t have been an easy pattern to establish and I wanted to know his secret. How did he go from drinking too much whiskey and exercising inconsistently to being a serious yoga student and writing every day? His answer was terribly disappointing.

    “I just did it,” he said.

    I said something to the effect of “Well, obviously, jackass. But how? It can’t be that simple. Wasn’t it hard?” and then I may have called him an idiot or slung some other insult at him. (This is the sibling equivalent of whispering soft nothing’s in one’s ear, you know.)

    And then he said, “Well, yeah.”

    I remember feeling huffy and puffy. “Gee, thanks for the insight, buttface. That tells me, you know, like, nothing.”

    He laughed. “I don’t know what to tell you.” He paused for a moment and then gave a long sigh. “I’m sorry. It’s all I can think to say. It was really hard. And I just still did it.”

    Coming from anyone else I would have thought they were being evasive or just weren’t self-reflective enough to be able to give me more details. But since it was my brother, whom I admire and respect a great deal, I sat with his answer and considered it. At the time, I didn’t come up with anything that helped me. But now I hear his answer differently.

    It was hard and he still just did it.

    Hmm. Okay, well I can do *that*.

    So on April 7th, the first day of Spring Break, I woke up and wrote. I knew for one entire glorious week I would not need to be anywhere in the morning. I spent an hour or two at the beginning of each day sitting at the kitchen table, an iced coffee with dark chocolate almond milk at my side. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote about opening up a retirement account, my mother’s underwear drawer, donating blood, learning how to do my laundry when I was 25, my mother’s attempted suicides, my drug dealing ex-boyfriend.

    I was doing it–I was giving my very best time of day to my writing. The house was quiet. No one needed breakfast or morning cuddles and I could even ignore the dirty dishes sitting on the counter. At the end of the week, I knew I was on to something. My writing felt more alive, and I was more efficient and fluid and awake. And I felt like such a badass.

    Then, it was time to return to my teaching job the following week, so I had to set my alarm for an hour earlier than usual if I was going to keep this up. I would have to wake up while it was still dark to continue making this morning writing a priority. I was daunted, but determined.

    And so far, drumroll please……I am still showing up!

    Every day I start with a small parade of celebration for myself, because I am here. I am writing! And I get out of bed excited. Not because my writing is awesome and I am loving the process and it doesn’t scare me anymore–on the contrary, the more I write, the more scattered and uncomfortable and shaky I feel about this crazy writing life. But it feels so good to be keeping a commitment to myself. To keep showing up for myself every day in this way feels powerful beyond anything I have ever done.

    And, of course, I still give myself permission to write the worst junk in the world. This is monumentally important. Some mornings, I focus on editing a previous piece and there is a staggering amount of work to do to clean it up and figure out where the piece needs to go and how to shape it. But by god, I am still here and I am doing the work!

    It is hard and I am still just doing it.

    So in answer to the original question, what I am beginning to let go of is the self-loathing that comes from disappointing myself time and time again. This is not easy. I like beating myself up. It feels familiar and comfortable and it is a predictable routine. Telling myself that I am a badass rock star writer, being confident in my skills and my purpose is much harder. Getting up before the sun to sit and see what tumbles out of the terrain of my mind is scary and overwhelming, and yet, completely reasonable and absolutely mandatory.

    There is simply no way to run from the truth anymore. I am a writer. So every morning I have to wade through any resistance that bubbles up at the sound of my alarm, put on my big girl panties, and make my way to the kitchen table. And I just have to keep showing up.

    • Laura Davis says

      So lovely to see your post this morning on the roadmap blog. Welcome to this new venue share your wonderful work.

      Congratulations on making this leap too serious, daily practice. I hope the people reading this will feel inspired (rather than jealous) of your success. I know I feel personally inspired. Thank you.

    • Michael Dorenzo says

      I love this! Every part of it, but this especially speaks to me:

      “So in answer to the original question, what I am beginning to let go of is the self-loathing that comes from disappointing myself time and time again.”

      This piece inspires and encourages me with my own practice…Isn’t that what we writers can do for one another? Thank you.

    • Karla says

      I really enjoyed the way you framed the initiation of your writing practice with the story of talking to your brother about his, as well as the vivid way you described sitting down at your table with your particular coffee and just doing IT.

    • beverly Boyd says

      Autumn,
      You really inspired me. A drumroll AND a rim shot to you.

      PS I loved the playful, name calling banter with your brother.

    • says

      Dear Autumn,

      Welcome and thank you for this very real and inspirational tale! I felt like I was sitting across from you at your kitchen table, but me with my almond mild chai…

    • Jenna says

      Autumn,
      I love the way that you describe your relationship with your brother. There’s something special about the way that you can be so close to someone that you can insult them and know that they will take it in the spirit that its meant.

      I use a similar technique to you and sit down and write first thing in the morning. I find it lets me get a handle on things and is a great way to start the day, especially when everyone else is still in bed and you have that time to yourself with no interruptions.

    • jo says

      Hi Autumn – I really enjoyed reading your piece. I have four brothers and we tease each other all the time so your relationship with your brother really resonated with me. Your brother’s advice was wise, simple and difficult all at the same time – he’s right – we just have to show up and do it!
      Congratulations for showing up and doing it!

    • Jane says

      Autumn, thank you for your story about how you chose to write more consistently, and what it took to get there. I don’t feel jealous of you, because I figure I’ll write when I’m supposed to write. However, I do admire your determination. Well done!

    • says

      I loved these words…”To keep showing up for myself every day in this way feels powerful beyond anything I have ever done”. What a wonderful gift you have given yourself… I’m going to try and do the same for me!

    • says

      Autumn, let me tell you: You are one bad ass writer! I am so impressed! And, yes–I’ll say it–jealous. :) Showing up and actually doing it. No. I’m getting there too. Still a bit timid but between you and Karla, I have set a new bar. Thank you!

  3. says

    I think I would have to give up my notion that there isn’t time to do it. I would have to give up the idea that someday I’ll do it but just not now. I think I will have to consciously schedule the time. I may have to take a “regular job” so that I would have more stability in my schedule and my income.

    I recently heard an interview on KQED’s FORUM about the notion of “flow,” how people can they are “in the zone.” I have been applying it to things in life, trying to be in the moment for the thing that I’m doing. If it’s a bigger task, I will look at the clock and commit to focusing on it for an hour. When I commit to this practice, my productivity definitely does go up, and I’m happier at my work. I think if I could commit even an hour a day, maybe even five days a week, to writing, that would feel good to me.

    • Karla says

      I think that writing it down, this one hour five days a week plan, just feels manageable and right for you. It’s really great that you’ve figure out what makes you “flow,” and I’m sure that will influence your writing for the better.

    • Jenna says

      Wendy,
      I read something some time ago about learning to play the guitar, although you can spend hours practicing, if you only do this once a week then it doesn’t have the same effect as if you spend a shorter amount of time practicing but do it every day.
      It sounds like you’ve come up with a similar idea.

    • Jane says

      Wendy, wow, an hour a day for five days a week, that would be quite a goal. I certainly do enjoy reading what you have written here, and look forward to more from you. Someone told me the other days, that if we’re not careful, “someday” can turn into “never.” It seems like that sometimes, anyway.

    • beverly Boyd says

      Hi Wendy,

      I’ve been able to get in the zone with writing by sitting with the paper and a ball point pen (because it slides across the paper easily) and writing “Here I am writing and I don’t know what to write about but I will sit here doing this for at least twenty minutes…or words to that effect: blah blah blah. It usually doesn’t take more than three or four lines when suddenly the pen takes off and I let whatever wisdom or nonsense comes onto the page of its own accord. The more I try to direct the project the more likely I will leave the zone. At some point I may feel like I am in dialogue with my muse and That is when it is the most fun and productive. My muse is the inspiration and I am the hand holding the pen.

      I admit this not an everyday occurrence, mainly because I deny myself the privilege of sitting down and writing with no particular end in mind!

    • says

      It’s funny how I can make a commitment to be others others… like meet for coffee or lunch once a week, and yet I can’t commit to making the same commitment to myself. One hour a day is not asking much when it comes to doing something for yourself!

    • says

      Hi Mary. When you put it that way (committing to an hour five days a week), it really is a manageable chunk, isn’t it? Just like in Laura’s retreats, where there is a concentrated, consistent effort, stuff happens. Words accumulate and we end up with a volume of work. I applaud your efforts.

  4. beverly Boyd says

    Inspired by Autumn
    I pledge to leave the paper on the driveway until three in the afternoon.
    I will remove my radio from my bedside table.
    I will use at least one hour of the three I usually spend listening to the early morning (6-10) show and doing the word games for writing.

    That will give me an early and better start on my day and not fritter away what is my best time.
    Then I’ll have even more time because I won’t be able to beat up on myself for wasting one more day.

    • Karla says

      You have a radio? [j/k]

      I also love the idea of saving time by not beating yourself up for not writing. Best use of productive writing time ever!

      • beverly Boyd says

        LOL Yep, I have a radio! in fact I have six including in the car, the garage and a picket sized portable.
        Am iI showing my age, or what?

    • jo says

      Hi Beverly – I love your list – it’s straight forward and has the ring of practicality and it sounds like your list will work for you. I also love your last sentence, “Then I’ll have even more time because I won’t be able to beat up on myself for wasting one more day.” It’s so important to kick that beat-me-up stuff to the curb!

    • Jane says

      Hi Beverly, what a fun list of things you would be willing to forego, in order to have more time for writing. I especially loved when you said you “won’t be able to beat up on [your]myself.”

    • beverly Boyd says

      Wow Gayle, Jenna, Karla, Laura, wendy, Jo, and Jane
      Thank you for your comments. Now I really have to do the best I can to keep that commitment.

      It feels like giving up sugar or potato chips.
      I’m in withdrawal already and entering the bargaining phase!

    • says

      Hi Beverly! I tend to fritter away my best time in the mornings by reading Facebook or playing games on my iphone despite the fact I’m a grown woman and don’t really need a virtual farm! Thank you for reminding me that I can put that time to better use! Good luck with your plan!

  5. says

    In the last 3 months I’ve really deepened my commitment to my writing. I made a decision to focus on writing at the beginning of the year and registered for Laura’s weekend workshop at Esalen. At the workshop I realized I needed to change my day-to-day practice by making more room for both focused writing practice and more of a time commitment to my writing. I decided to participate in this online weekly writing group and I decided to put into action an idea I had from last year which was to use transcription software to essentially hike & write–to record my thoughts as I’m doing at this very moment while I’m hiking through nature and then to use transcription software to transcribe my first draft, then go back and revise and edit on my computer. I feel good that I’ve been doing what I committed to do in these two areas.

    About four or five years ago I took a learning style assessment and discovered that I was much more of a kinesthetic learner than I had realized; even having made it through a PhD program and dissertation in communication many years before realizing this. Just last year I started to explore ways to accomplish meeting my need for movement and my desire to write. I write most of my first drafts while I’m walking through nature. What I’ve noticed is that I’m able to make deeper connections in my writing, I’m generally more creative and willing to just ‘say’ what I’m thinking, and I take greater risks while I’m moving my body and experiencing this connection in my self and with other living things.

    Having gone through the short sale process it’s cleared the way and made me braver to face what I’ve had to face to commit to my writing and my writing practice. In some ways it’s dealing with garden-variety fear of criticism and fear of potentially very public failure; what I consider common yet not small or inconsequential fears. I’m finding that having a community of writers helps.

    I’ve also been sending out a short piece on our short sale experience, so far to different national papers that accept first person pieces, and I’ll keep on doing this until it’s accepted somewhere. I am getting support from others on how to do this and I am also new to the process so it feels strange and scary. In the meantime I’m slowly chipping away at a longer memoir of our short sale experience, from deciding to do a short sale on our house, the entire process of it, the ups and the downs and the gamut of feelings, the obvious benefits but also the hidden benefits that we didn’t expect from the decision and process.

    The last week or two I’ve noticed that if I don’t need to be somewhere or doing some thing in a particular moment I want to get back to my writing. I was saying to my husband that I was a little concerned that I was becoming obsessed because I do have a tendency towards workaholism. As I have become aware of my deepening relationship with my writing I see that I get to explore the difference between a deep commitment and workaholism and I think I’ll always be dancing on that tightrope. I tend to get really passionate when I’m trying or learning something new. I also get very interested in improving and understanding it deeply. What I get to work with is how to utilize what’s good about my tendencies and try not to tip over the edge too much of becoming overly obsessive or workaholic which I find takes the fun out of it for me.

    I guess that’s the big question, am I still having fun? Am I still enjoying the writing process? Am I still getting immense pleasure out of what I’m producing? I know what will change or refract that experience is my approach and the ‘how’ I’m doing it and the how I’m looking at it. That’s my leading-edge right now when it comes to this growing commitment to my writing life.

    • Jenna says

      Gayle,

      I’m not sure what a short sale is but you’re piece left me wanting to find out more.

      From a geek point of view what are you using to record your writing when your on the move and then transcribe it?

      • says

        Hi Jenna,

        I have a free app on my iphone called dragon recorder that syncs easily with the software on my mac called macspeech scribe. You can transfer your audio files either wirelessly, wired or via email.

        After several false starts I ended up with a higher quality, noise cancelling hands-free microphone that I wear on my head and that plugs into my iphone with an adapter. The mic wraps around my head and sits on my ears like I’m Madonna doing a rock concert or something except I’m hiking. I think this is the safest way because it keeps both hands free. These higher quality mics cost $50-175 and I bought the $50 one because of the possible damage issue. So far so good.

        Once the software transcribes for you you get to approve the transcription in lines or phrases. I find that listening to my recorded voice again, while I’m looking at the printed transcription is another deeper layer of knowing my writing. Hard to explain here but I hope you get the picture. Good luck!

      • says

        Hi Jenna,

        I forgot to answer the rest of your question. A short sale is when you sell a house for less than what is owed on the mortgage; this is when the mortgage is ‘underwater.’ Underwater is when the house is currently worth less (market value) than you owe the bank on it. In a short sale the bank has to agree to take less than the principal on the loan and ‘forgive’ the difference when you sell the house ‘short.’ The forgiven part of the loan is considered ‘taxable income.’

        In previous weeks I have written reflections on the process of deciding and doing this and some of the misconceptions out there about .

        • Jenna says

          Thanks for the explanation. I don’t think its something that we have in the UK. At least if it is then its not well known.

    • Magali says

      Dear Gayle,

      Thanks for sharing this important piece. I love your question of “am I still having fun?”, and your idea about speaking your writing while hiking in nature. I am committed to my exercise–and now to physical therapy since I’m recovering from a bad car accident–but it seems the easiest thing to sacrifice when I want more time for writing, and that’s just not working for me. I have resisted acquiring some voice-recognition software for a lot of reasons, but your brilliant solution of writing while hiking is worth considering. Thank you so much for sharing it. I also think your story about letting go of your home is an important one, that many people will benefit from reading. I trust it will be published in the perfect venue. Enjoy the writing!

      • Karla says

        Magali said what I felt so well that I am not going to try to speak to how much I liked this piece in the same neighborhood as her feedback. I also thought you just very much captured your “journey” into writing and I was very captivated by its authenticity and self-awareness.

    • says

      Gayle, I love the idea of walking and writing. That feels just brilliant to me. I can really see your commitment to writing in this piece. Thank you.

    • Laura Davis says

      I love your creative approach to working the kinesthetic into your writing life.

      Also I prefer focusing on the idea of passion rather than workaholism. In my experience, you have to be engrossed to the point of obsession to complete a book, so I’m afraid total focus goes with the territory.

    • Jane says

      Hi Gayle, what a treat, to walk through and enjoy nature, while dictating what you’d like to include in your writing. I am impressed with your high-tech savvy, and enjoy reading what you write.

    • beverly Boyd says

      Hi Gayle,
      Seems like a book about your experiences with a short sale would be interesting and informative.
      Maybe you can change chipping away to chopping away.
      Good luck

    • says

      Hi Gayle,
      Your enthusiasm tells me that yes… you are still enjoying the writing process. I think that if any of those questions was answered no by yourself, we would already see that answer in your writing.
      I am fascinated with the way you have been hiking and literally recording your thoughts!

  6. Ritch Brinkley says

    “To forgive myself for writing junk.” That struck home, as I tend to sometimes be the most critical. In my life as actor, we used to have a phrase often repeated: “Permission to excel.” It referred to a widely held belief in acting ( and many creative arts) that to progress further we need the positive reinforcement of someone we consider far more talented or accomplished.For myself, and I surmise countless others, this very encouragement comes from Laura, creator of this blog. Like some others, I seem to need a prompt to sit down and write. Ironically I have become this prompter .Since October medical issues have grounded me in a very different environment than ever before-namely an independent living establishment. 98% of the conversation hereabouts revolves around grandchildren, health issues, quality of the food served, and most of all “the good old days.” One of the reasons I chose this place was that they purported to have a writers club. Sadly I discovered this barely existed. But quickly the leader asked me to take the reins, which I promptly did. It is extremely difficult to get four or five of these old codgers to attend once a month, much less write. Nevertheless, I am dealing with the hand I have been dealt. I try to make the prompt incredibly easy, encouraging participation. The current one is to begin anything with the words “The funny thing about…….” One enthusiastic resident termed this a very difficult assignment. Could it be any simpler? But leading this group compels me to produce an example. As for regular commitment, I spend four hours every other day on dialysis. Do I write? No, I ashamedly admit. But I have ordered a fancy new computer to use instead of this puny tablet-so the feeble excuses dwindle.I hereby publicly declare I WILL write while being drained by the electric vampire.. So there-you all heard me.

    • Karla says

      Rich, I adored this entire piece but really loved this nearly last line: “I hereby publicly declare I WILL write while being drained by the electric vampire.” I think it is amazing that you have taken the reins of your local writer’s group. My writer’s group is based out of OLLI (for people 50+), and I am the youngest member, at 51. There are some challenges to being part of a “senior” writing group, including what do you do when someone reads their piece for the second time because she forgot she read it the first time? Answer: pretend you’re hearing it for the first time and you’re not mad that none of the feedback given was incorporated. Many of our group have challenges and sometimes we start by giving health updates of our various members. On the other hand, the richness of the experience of these 60, 70, 80, and 90 year old people is incredible, and there are many excellent writers among them. I have learned so much. I wish you the best with your old folks group!

      • Ritch Brinkley says

        Thanks Karla. I must learn to be as patient as are you. At 70, I am the second youngest man in the 4-story building.. we just played “Family Feud” and more than once someone guessed an answer that was shown in huge letters on the board. As for aginf, one cognizant aware matron is 101, and says she wants to come to our next meeting. Most of the men were in WWII, one at Omaha Beach. I believe todzy more than ever, elders want to preserve their life and times for their younger relatives. “Ancestry” is thriving. None of us know where we’re going, but we all wish to tell where we’ve been. Now, to document all those experiences.

        • Jane says

          Wow, someone like me would love to read the stories collected from those senior sages by someone (like you?) – - a collection of memories, funny and serious. Just a thought.

    • says

      Ritch, I love the way you phrased this line: “I will write while being drained by the electric vampire.” That is just so great. And congratulations for leading the group. I think writing groups are so important. Thank you.

    • Laura Davis says

      Ritch, I admire so much your commitment to raising the creative and intellectual bar at your assisted living facility. If you want some help with prompts for your writers, email me.

    • jo says

      Hi Ritch – I so enjoyed reading your piece! I love that your taking the reins and running a writing group where you live. It sounds like it has its frustrations but it does keep you committed to your own writing which is fantastic!
      I love your last couple of lines as well — you wrote a powerful image about the ‘electric vampire’ and I also like your emphatic declaration about writing when you said, “:So there-you all heard me.”

    • Magali says

      Power to you, Ritch, for stepping up to lead a writing group, and for committing to writing while the ‘electric vampire’ is doing its thing. Way to combine writing practice with self-care. Way to use a part of your routine that is surely challenging, and turn it into gold!

    • says

      Way to go Rich! Get those old folks writing. They have some amazing stories to tell and most everyone is too busy to listen to them so they need to write them down.

      I have found that the old saying, “We are forced to teach what we need most to learn.” to be true. lol

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Jane says

      Hi Ritch, and thank you for a fun story! You have an entertaining way of writing about your learning curve at the independent living center. I look forward to hearing more about the writers group you are facilitating.

    • beverly Boyd says

      Hi Ritch
      I’ve been part of a senior writing group for (I can’t believe it) ten years. People come and go: all too often they die. Some of them don’t read often and a couple others have written a book. If there is still time after those with new material read, some read stories they’ve read before and we enjoy them. It is very low key…not a critique group…feedback is always positive. It’s surprising how much people learn from the positive feedback on their own and other’s writing. There is a prompt each week and a few will write for that and get to read first.
      The most important thing is to enjoy it!

    • says

      You said ” So there-you all heard me.” I heard you! You have a great spirit and I hope you preserve that in written words. Thank you for your service to encourage the other residents to write. I have no doubt it’s frustrating and really…. who needs medical updates! but I have a gut feeling those folks enjoy that hour or two you have put aside for them to recollect and hopefully leave something for the generations ahead.

    • Lee Xan says

      Love that you’ve taken on this writing group in your new community! I too work with older adults and I’ve found that I have to be more…um, concrete–in a way, starting with senses sometimes, real live physical prompts can elicit great memories and stories. I tend to use examples. Break things way down. The more advanced writers will go with it and be more detailed and bold. The other writers will feel more comfortable and feel more included and able and soon be bold too. That’s been my experience anyway. When someone gives an answer that’s just been given (sometimes because of memory and cognitive issues, other times it’s because of hearing, eyesight, or other issues, sometimes literacy), I might say something like, “Oh, so-and-so just mentioned that too–Great minds think alike!”

      I always try to remind myself that I could be any of the people there. That said, I am also for myself wanting groups that I feel comfortable in and groups I can fly in, and think about how I can create this or perhaps find this in another realm.

      There is something always interesting in my experience about being around older people–it does force me–in a good way, to be more improvisational and on my toes, more supportive–I’ve worked with lots of people who have had so much negativity around writing, that they need lots of positivity, they need to see as I think we all do, where the strength lies in their voices.

      I am sort of picky with prompts–I know different things work for different people, but I experiment with different kinds of prompts to see what works. Lots of prompts leave me dry for some reason–they are not meaty enough for me. I know some prompts are great for imaginative people, but not for me. I’m more of a riffer off the real or off the concrete stuff.

      I remember a class I was leading with a group of older adults and some with certain kinds of disabilities and also some without much formal education–either way, I’d been explaining something–maybe it was some light science thing about digestion–something I thought was accessible, and after a little while, someone raised her hand and said, “I haven’t understood a word you’ve said for the last 10 minutes.” I think I learned to make my classes more accessible by checking for understanding, but also, I realized that my language which seems fairly standard to myself can be peppered at times with words that might be unnecessarily complex to some groups of people and alienating.

      But anyway, that’s awesome and daring you’ve put this group together–I hope good things come of it!

      • Lee Xan says

        Oops, sorry, I think I’m responding to Rich’s comment and a little to Beverly’s comment too about the repeating person!

  7. Magali says

    I know something about self-discipline, tenacity and the dogged consistency of working hard and long toward an important goal. I have trained and raced in triathlons; I have been up at 3:30 am for a cold shower and two and a half hours of yoga and meditation before sunrise; I did all the memorization and grammatical drudgery necessary to learn five languages; and I once translated an entire book in 11 days, by working with impeccable precision from 5 am to 11 pm.

    Committing to my writing is not a problem, I’ve already done that. The bigger question for me is, how do I make writing sustainable? How can I shape my writing practice so that it doesn’t come at the expense of my physical wellbeing, my friendships and relationships, or my ability to make a living?
    Last November I added 50,000 words to my novel by riding the exhilarating wave of National Novel Writing Month. It was so satisfying to write with full permission, to write without having to justify why the dishes were not done or why I didn’t call a friend back. After all, over 350,000 people all over the world were attempting this writing marathon with me, and with that much support, you can’t help thinking that what you are doing is worthwhile.

    The thing is, I had a serious car accident 20 months ago, from which I am still trying to recover. If I don’t exercise regularly and gently, my back freezes up and my pelvic sprain flares up and I have a lot of pain. In November I sacrificed some of my exercise time to writing, because I had permission from 350,000 people, but it wasn’t good for me. And even now, when I am doing a lot of rewriting and my production rhythm fluctuates a lot, I haven’t got a handle on how to create a truly sustainable routine for the long term that takes care of all my needs, as well as protecting my writing time.

    I am a huge fan of Haruki Murakami, and I really appreciated his memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. In brief, he says that if he hadn’t become a long-distance runner, he wouldn’t be the writer that he is. He suggests, between lines, that the level of endurance he had to build to run marathons and train for them year-round, somehow parallels the endurance he needs for writing .

    I can’t run anymore because I am too injured and my knees can’t handle it, but I do want to have a healthy body even though I am committed to this very sedentary practice. I am in search of my equivalent to Murakami’s running practice. Although I’ve been a very devoted yogini, the car accident took that away from me for a long time, and now it’s hard to peel myself away from the notebook or the computer to do a few yoga poses before returning to this rigid posture. I become quite immobile as I listen to what my characters have to say, and then my back seizes up. I still hike and swim several times per week, but it is clear that I need to mix some movement in with writing, and I haven’t figured out what it will be.

    • says

      Magali,

      You have a described your situation in a very vivid, clear manner. I am confident that you will find your solutions. Thank you.

    • jo says

      Hi Magali – You told your story beautifully! Your details of training for your triathlons, your journey since your car accident and your challenge of finding a way to move when you’re in such discomfort painted a picture for me that is very clear. It’s tough to find a balance between healing and writing but I admire your commitment to do both.

    • says

      Dear Magali,

      I can tell that you are determined to figure out how to marry your need to move with your need to write. You seemed to be figuring it out right now!

    • Jane says

      Hello Magali, and thank you for sharing this story of pain and of healing. As a professional couch potato, I cannot imagine running for fun, let alone being in a triathalon. But I have been in an auto accident, and the injuries seem to crop up now and again. Reading what you have written in these prompts has been a joy for me, and the clear and poetic images you create are a treat. I am sorry to hear of your pain. Yet – greedy cuss that I am – I look forward to reading what you will write next.

      • Magali says

        You are too kind, Jane! I don’t know what a cuss is (not a person who cusses, surely?), but I welcome your greed for reading. I’m a greedy one, too, and a couch-potato in recovery :)

        • Jane says

          hmmm. how to define my slang, Magali? Well, I’ll do my best. Although “to cuss” would mean “to swear,” someone who is “a cranky old cuss” is using the word “cuss” as a noun, not a verb. It means “a person or animal with a particular, often irritating, trait.” We use it in a joking manner, usually. I hope that helps, and I have picked up all sorts of Southern speech here, like “yah’ll” for “you guys,” but am from out West. Sorry for any confusion!

          Jane

          • Magali says

            No apologies, Jane, I’m from Mexico, so there’s a lot of slang I just don’t know. Thanks for the explanation. I really enjoy colorful language!

    • Karla says

      I liked the way you juxtaposed your commitment to your body with your commitment to writing, as well as describing the conflict between attending to one versus the other. Unfortunately, time for multiple commitments is really a zero sum “game”, because there are a finite number of hours in the day. Seems to me like you got this one, though.

    • says

      Magali,
      As I read your piece, what stood out for me was your devotion. Your devotion to running, to NaNoWriMo, to your health…. and to your writing. I believe as you continue to heal and adapt to changes in your life, you will find what works for you..you will find a way to stay committed to all the things you enjoy doing!`

  8. Jo Aylard says

    As a therapist, I always hope that I have a positive impact on the people I work with. I hope that I have a positive impact with family and friends as well. Being raised in a violent home, I know the impact of negativity on a person’s heart, soul and psyche.

    What holds me back in terms of my writing is the fear that my writing won’t have a positive impact on people’s lives. I’ve written a book of short stories on my perspective of what Heaven is like. In my stories, my version of God is kind, compassionate and empathetic. Essentially, he’s a teacher. The short stories all connect together in the sense that God meets and talks to different people to teach them what their soul needs to learn. He talks to Groucho Marx, Marilyn Monroe, Dr. Seuss and a host of other famous folks. One of the stories has God talking to Adolf Hitler. Several people have read the story and let’s just say, it didn’t have a positive impact because lots of folks don’t seem to think Hitler belongs in Heaven. My perspective is that everybody goes to Heaven but it’s to continue to learn lessons about who they are and how they can become better people. People that read the Hitler story got stirred up and it triggered them into questioning what they believe about good and evil, redemption and the possibility of change. I had hoped that the stories would get people thinking differently and they have done that but what I struggle with is the conflict and confrontation that the stories seem to stir.

    Did I mention that I hate conflict and confrontation? Well, these stories seem to stir up conflict within people when they read them and I struggle with that. When I work with someone in the context of a therapeutic relationship, they get stirred up while they’re working on their issues but it’s a different kind of stir. They’re looking for change or else they wouldn’t be in my office. People that read my stories get upset and conflictual with me and that’s a tough one for me. I’ve been told “you can’t write that” which stirs up my own issues about my writing being exposed and judged. I know I need to change the way I think about the impact these stories may have on people but for now, I’m stuck with the struggle of not wanting the conflict that seems to get stirred up with my perspective of God and his dog Frank as God teaches people to deepen their awareness of their own spiritual potential in Heaven.

    • Laura Davis says

      Hi Jo, I understand the conflict you’re feeling about putting your stories out into the world–but writing, in my mind, is meant to stir people up, to make them think, question, feel and examine their own lives and beliefs. If someone doesn’t like your work, they don’t need to read it. They can put it down or not pick it up in the first place.

      That being said, deciding to put your work out there means that you will have to deal with people who love it, hate it, dismiss it, or feel neutral about it. The challenge of separating ourselves from our work is huge for writers. But that distance is essential or you will feel far too vulnerable when you put your writing out in the world. It’s difficult to achieve though–but essential.

    • Jane says

      “God and his dog, Frank.” How delightful that you have written these stories which portray an alternate reality for “heaven.” I totally agree with what Laura said. If people do not like what you have written, they can either put it down and stop reading it, or they can not start in the first place. It is so hard sometimes to remember that we were not put here to make everyone else happy. Opinions are like noses: everybody has one. You only need to be true to one person, and that is YOU, Jo.

    • beverly Boyd says

      Hi Jo,
      Laura said it so well. I just want to say I agree wholeheartedly with her.
      My own experience is much more recent. I shared for last week’s prompt the reactions people had to the book I am writing on racism and feeling the fear of other peoples opinions. Since I faced my fear and went out on the limb I have found it easier to allow others to come from their experience and not let it destroy the passion I feel for the work.
      It takes time but I’m getting better at it. I’m sure you can, too.
      And I’d love to read your book. I like the concept of god and his dog having discussions.

    • Lee Xan says

      Wow…I read the part about the short story–yeah, that’s gonna stir people up! And then the part about not liking “conflict and confrontation”. Hmm. It seems like people’s reactions to the story is a prompt too!

      Laura’s comment about separating ourselves from our work seems important but also, aren’t we responsible in some ways for the fictions and other things we put out there? I mean, one can choose to separate themselves from the subject matter…or not.

      Usually on this site, I respond to posts just responding to the writing itself–what struck me in the writing and don’t engage with my own opinions so much on the subject matter, but…hmm.

      I suppose I am here writing in the week of Yom HaShoah–the week of the year where people in my community acknowledge and remember The Holocaust. I have just spent time listening to the last of the survivors speak–the ones who were just kids. The children of the survivors speak now mostly–tell what hell their parents survived and often the lifelong effects of that time. One speaker, a child of a survivor, had a parent who could never speak of that time and yet those years affected her life and the life of her kids who felt they never really knew her.

      All kinds of things are thrown around in literature like they are light and are the farthest thing from it. I suppose, for myself, if I read a work with a challenging subject matter, I would look to where the author was coming from when they engaged this subject matter, what is their relation to the subject. Not that they need necessarily a personal familial relationship, but I would wonder at the relationship to the subject at hand and why that one is being used in a certain way.

      I suppose I’ll stop here–it is a clearly complicated and very deep topic.

  9. Jenna says

    To Really Commit to my Writing
    For the last three and a half months I’ve been writing 3 sides of A4 each morning. Well nearly each morning. Sometimes I have to be out of the house and don’t have the time. Other times I find that the first hour of my day, between 6 and 7am gets encroached on my my son or my partner getting up early. When it does then my chance to write those sides of A4 disappear. As does my sense of peace and the rightness of the world.

    I have a blog that I’ve been updating for several years, I usually post something on it once a week but sometimes more often if there’s a lot going on.

    Last week I set up a new blog for my son as he’s just been diagnosed with a tumour. Several years ago he underwent a bone marrow transplant and I produced a blog to keep all of his and our friends up-to-date with his progress. To keep everyone up-to-date this time round we’re going to do the same. Now I just need to find my copy of the Bumper Bad Joke Book and start brushing up on Andrew Lloyd Webber show tunes that I can parody.

    I have several other writing projects that are on the go.

    With all that why would I want to really commit to my writing? I actually see committing to my writing as part of committing to being creative in several areas. Writing is one part. The others are my burlesque and belly dancing. If I’m going to really commit to my writing then I want to do the same to the other two.

    So how? Well the answer to that is really simple. For the last year or so I’ve been redecorating our small bedroom. It needs all of the junk that we’ve put in there after Christmas clearing out and some final work needed to finish off decorating it but once that is done, the new bed that is in there can be put together which will give somewhere to sit. My stereo can be moved in there as can my laptop and the folders I keep my writing materials in. At that point I will have somewhere that I can go and wont be disturbed by anyone and can write, or practice burlesque routines or work on my belly dancing. It will be my creative space.

    So as part of really committing to my writing, this weekend I am going to sort out the small bedroom and turn it into a place that I can be creative and spend time working on those writing projects that I have started but haven’t quite finished.

    • Jane says

      Hi Jenna, and thank you for your clarity. I am so sorry to hear of your Son’s illness, and hope all goes well there. I love that you can see exactly what you need to do. Carving a space for Jenna’s writing is a lovely idea.

    • Laura Davis says

      Jenna, it sounds like you’ve already created the space inside yourself to commit to your creativity–and now the external space will mirror it as well.

    • beverly Boyd says

      Jenna,
      Sounds like a plan…a space of your own!
      When my children were still home and I had a daily writing practice, I let them know when I was ready to sit in the chair where I wrote, they weren’t to disturb me for anything less that a serious emergency. It worked.

  10. Becky Wecks says

    Hi Laura – I’ve been putting off posting my writing ever since you started this blog! Here I am – ready to face my fear – as you will see in this piece. I hope it’s not too long to post – I’ve cut as much out as I could stand:)

    What would it take for me to really commit to my writing? Well, to begin with, I’d have to break off with the crowd I’ve been hanging with. The ring leader is an attractive ego maniac named Fear. Fear is alluring, sometimes irresistible and extremely jealous. He wants my complete and undivided attention, and will go to great lengths to keep me from being a writer. To be honest, I think he’s afraid that I’ll fall in love with writing and leave him. I know he’s a bully, but there’s just something about him.

    She’s a master of disguises, and I find this endlessly entertaining. Just when I’m sick and tired of her voice, and I think I’ve seen and heard it all, here she comes disguised as some kind of Florence Nightingale. Once (or maybe more) she was disguised as a Buddhist nun, literally draped in good will and kindness, full of speeches about the importance of sacrificing for others who are in need. With all the obligations I have – how could I possibly think I have time to write? At one point in my life, she actually looked like Mother Teresa, and I nearly decided to become a Catholic and move to India and devote my life to the poor and the needy. So you see how clever Fear is; what could be nobler than devoting one’s life to helping others? Nothing of course – it’s just that he wants my total devotion, and above all he wants to keep me from discovering my power as a writer.

    Fear knows I’m a soft touch – especially for the good deeds – but the worst is when he comes disguised as a big dollar sign. I am most easily seduced by visions of my empty bank account. Oh my god! The first of the month is coming up and I don’t have money for rent, and I need to have my oil changed and I’m overdue for a medical checkup and I haven’t had my teeth cleaned in a year. I have to work more! I can’t be messing around with writing. Is writing going to pay the bills? And in a low terrifying voice he whispers in my ear, “I don’t think so dear. Take a look at the bookstore, at the number of authors out there trying to make enough money to support themselves. Do you think for a minute your writing is going to get anyone’s attention? Stick with me sweetie, because I’m the one who cares about your survival. Writing is a mere distraction. Writing is for people with money and time on their hands.” I fall for that line nearly every time.

    So – what would I have to give up? I’d have to give up my dysfunctional relationship with Fear.

    What would I have to change? I think it’s obvious that I need to find different friends – maybe some writers.

    • Jane says

      Hi Becky, and welcome! I totally loved this piece. Mr. Fear is in danger of being kicked to the curb by Ms.Becky, it seems, and deservedly so. Congratulations for naming my number one excuse, as well, it is FEAR in all his reasonableness and cowardly cloaks.

    • Laura Davis says

      Becky, I’m so glad you took the risk to post on this forum. Welcome! I’ve missed your voice and what a delight it was to open my computer and find you here, of all places! I hope you make this a regular home, fear be damned.

      Your multi-layered portrait of fear had my skin crawling in recognition. These were my favorite lines of many great ones: “the worst is when he comes disguised as a big dollar sign. I am most easily seduced by visions of my empty bank account. Oh my god! The first of the month is coming up and I don’t have money for rent, and I need to have my oil changed and I’m overdue for a medical checkup and I haven’t had my teeth cleaned in a year. I have to work more! I can’t be messing around with writing. Is writing going to pay the bills?

      Keep coming back…it’s wonderful to have you as part of this virtual community.

    • beverly Boyd says

      Hi Becky,
      What a nice surprise to see your name on this blog. I always enjoyed your writing when we were in Laura’s project class together.
      you said it,”What would I have to change? I think it’s obvious that I need to find different friends – maybe some writers.” Here we are,. Welcome

  11. Jane says

    I must confess. I never imagined there was a need for me to “commit” to my writing. Writing is just something I must do. Even when I’m not supposed to. I buy books and write my ideas and comments in the margins. The only rule there is that I cannot write in a library book, because I didn’t buy it. I sometimes allow myself to write in my journals. But it feels self-indulgent, that I should be accomplishing some other task.

    When I think about making a commitment to my writing, and wonder what would I have to give up or change, I just feel a sort of cringing in my spirit. To make yet another goal and then fail to do it? That is scary. I suppose I would have to give up being lazy and selfish.

    People have often told me I should write a book about my life. I remember being born. I remember being raped in my sleep as a teen, incested by a cousin because we weren’t “blood related.” To this day, my Mother tells everyone it was all my fault. I survived when a boyfriend totaled his VW bug in an auto wreck, which sent me flying through the windshield and skidding across the desert. Although I cannot remember the accident, I remember my three-day coma afterwards, how I silently begged “them” to please let me stay, do not make me return to Earth. It was so calm, quiet and peaceful there. There was no pain. I never wanted to leave. Alas, I awoke to broken bones and fractured vertebrae. I entered two marriages: the first left me for a man and the second won the lottery and left me to raise our three children, 4, 7 and 9. I’ve had one troglodyte boyfriend since, and I’m still here.

    But to me, it hasn’t seemed unusual or “book” worthy. It’s just been the way things are. At other times, the images and memories and words are percolating within me, fermenting and bubbling up. It feels like if I don’t write, I’ll simply explode. The emotional turbulence is daunting.

    Sometimes, all the knitting and piano playing in the world are just not enough.

    • Laura Davis says

      Jane, I loved your passion for writing–how it simply is something that must come out of you! I was gripped at the description of your coma and how you didn’t want to come back–how quiet and peaceful it was there. Yet it not your time. And perhaps that is in part because of the voices in you that need to get out: “It feels like if I don’t write, I’ll simply explode.”

      I loved your last line, “Sometimes all the knitting and piano playing in the world are just not enough.”

      Spoken like a true writer.

    • beverly Boyd says

      Hi Jane,
      ….”the images and memories and words are percolating within me, fermenting and bubbling up. It feels like if I don’t write, I’ll simply explode. The emotional turbulence is daunting..

      That sounds like you have something to write. Don’t worry about a book for now, just sit down and let those words bubble onto a page. Once you start you don’t know what might happen.

      Find a SUPPORTIVE writing group to share with…or start one. You can even knit while you listen to other people’s stories!

      • Jane says

        Thank you, Laura and Beverly, and everyone, for such kind and encouraging words. I think I have found a supportive group already, Beverly, here with you kind women and men. It’s fun how we each take the same prompt, and then express ourselves uniquely in reply, so that each person contributes their own wonderful and unique experiences and ideas. What a delight!

  12. Magali says

    Thank you, everyone, for your posts and your feedback and for being part of this lovely writing community. And thank you, Laura, for giving us additional ways to commit to our writing.

    I have to confess that even though Tuesday is a really busy workday for me, I always peek at the computer really early to see what the prompt of the day will be. I’m hoping for something juicy, you know? But this practice is not always juicy, in fact, it is often serious business. The last few weeks, instead of giving us a prompt that felt like, say, swinging on the park swings, the prompts have felt like excruciating excavation projects! Writing about the underbelly of my profession, for example, was like operating a jackhammer and digging through the rubble for something usable.

    This is not really a complaint. Like you said in your response to Jo Aylard, the point of writing is to stir stuff up. I could ask, however, do we really need to stir stuff up with a backhoe all the time? Or could we use a little, dainty teaspoon once in a while?

    All goofiness aside, I thank you for enlisting the deep excavator in me, ‘cause sometimes I don’t want to go there, but it is worth it every time. Also, the conversation on this forum is quite juicy, always.

    • Laura Davis says

      You’re welcome, Magali. I love that you’ve committed to this forum. Your participation adds so much to this community.

  13. says

    What would it take to really commit to your writing? What would you have to give up? What would you have to change?

    I have to change the belief that I need permission to write. I am realizing that I have never committed to my writing because I had held on to the notion that writing was frivolous.

    I have stuffed the desire to write deep down inside of me since I was a little girl. I remember writing poems and little stories by the light of the hallway bathroom in the middle of the night hiding my little notebook under the mattress because I felt silly. I kept hiding my writing as a teenager for fear that my parents would think I was a mazy teen full of flighty ideas.

    My uncle loved to paint. He retired early and spent his time painting still lifes of flowers. He and his wife came over one night for dinner and presented my parents with a framed piece of art he created. When they left my parents sneered at his desire to paint and put the painting in the back of the hall closet hidden behind the winter coats calling him a flake and a fool. My writing stopped that same night.

    Since then the years of being a mother, a daughter and a wife squashed any thoughts to put pen to paper. There were always more important things to do and writing still seemed to frivolous. A waste of precious time. I refused to give myself the permission to do so even after the children have grown, the family business established and my parents are gone.

    Today the desire to write has morphed into a passion to write. The call to do so is great and is bursting from me like a field of wild orange poppies showing off it’s natural talent under the bright blue sky. Stories, thoughts and wonderful words constantly swirl about in my mind and the only way to tame it is to put the words down on paper. To write. To create. To dream.

    My uncle’s painting is now hanging in my brother’s family room, no longer forgotten and dusty. It hangs proudly in his nephew’s home with permission for others to enjoy and appreciate. A gift my uncle left behind for the world to see.

    Today I give myself permission to write. A commitment to create. A dare to dream. Today I am committed to leave behind my gift to the world. Today I am free to do so.

    • Laura Davis says

      Mary, this was beautiful. I’m so pleased and proud of you that you’ve reclaimed your passion for writing given this training to hide and bury your light.

    • Jane says

      Hi Mary, what Laura said so well, YES. I also enjoyed reading your story. It has a smooth, lyrical flow to it and was enjoyable from the start to the finish. I was feeling sadness that the painting was hidden away, along with you as a writer. What a relief that the painting didn’t land in the landfill! I love the restoration imagery, both with the painting at your Brother’s home, and with you breathing new life into your Artist/Writer self. Victory lap for Mary.

  14. MaryL says

    To Really Commit to My Writing

    What would it take for you to really commit to your writing? What would you have to give up? What would you have to change?

    If I had something about which I were passionate, a gift that bubbled up and forced itself to be heard, but it tore out my heart, I would not do it.

    I do not believe that suffering is good, though we sometimes cannot avoid the anquish of our life, even when we care deeply for some aspect of our life.

    I do not believe in redemptive suffering, namely, that if Someone suffers for another person, then that other is made pure and clean. So I do not believe that the Christ died to redeem all humankind. What kind of God would cause that or tolerate that?

    Suffering – such as a bad migraine – may have to be endured – but it is not meant to be enjoyed. Childbirith, which is overwhelmingly more powerful than a headache can be quite painful, but as they say, afterward, the mother’s pain disappears at the entrance of a new and beautiful child into life.

    My writing is vital to me. It is like the blood coursing through the arteries and into the veins. It is that brainy matter that fills up with questions, then answers them, tentatively, perhaps, fearfully. It is uncertainty personified. Questions … worries … memories … imagining another ending to the story … the good big sister who takes my hand to walk through the briars.

    Yes, I write every day. Somedays I start with my classwork and that can take me into the afternoon. The past two and a half days of grading and posting have robbed me of a weekend of writing. I am just too tired now, except to vent a little.

    As I understand my predicament, there are a couple of obstacles to dedicating myself to writing. One is time – will I be able to write about all those areas which have been calling me for a long time, sad and silly stories, lonely etudes, losses that cannot be filled? The other is self-doubt …is what I have to say worth saying? And that is the true question, the one from which the others spill out..

    My mother is the bystander for a predatory “father.” My cousin, my first loss, died at sixteen and I still think I should have gone first. The hours ticked by after the convent years, waiting to finish enough college, move to Boston, then marrying hastily.
    The babies came – Michael, Nancy, Caroline – such pure, sweet joy, later mixed with tears and loneliness. The telephone rang earlier with my grandson warning me to stay away from the windows during the storms so I won’t get hurt.

    The Aleuts, people of Alaska, who were interned during WWII, where they sent Dad and many others, and where the land was deliberately decimated to make it unworthy of healing … I have a connection with them. I have learned the rudiments of the language, but I ache to go there. The children in the orphanage in South Dakota … I want to meet them and listen to their stories.

    I was told to write into the middle of a sentence and to continue you there tomorrow, so that I would never be finished and always have more …..

    A gong! How Buddhist! I like it! It will bring a bit of ritual into the beginning and the middle of my daily commitment to the paper and the words.

    • Laura Davis says

      A definitive answer from your teacher and coach here, “Yes, your stories are worth telling. They are.”

      Will you be able to tell them all? Probably not. That shouldn’t stop you from getting the next one down on paper.

      Don’t let monkey mind trick you. Just keep writing. That’s all.

    • Jane says

      Hi Mary, and ditto what Laura has said. Again, your writing has swept me up and carried me through with honesty and clarity. I love how you share your ups, downs, joys, sorrows. About suffering: thank you for saying that! It reminds me of the universality of knowledge gained through trial, pain and suffering, as shown in all the world’s myths, not just in the Christian religion. And I love that you are listening to your spirit’s call to your ancestral ties to the Aleut people. Thank you for the writing you have let us read here. I really look forward to reading what you and our other writers have added here.

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