Friday, March 28, 2014

What I’ve Learned from D: Creative Expression is Worth It

D and I bonded over writing way back when.  Both of us write, but D has always been more disciplined than I am about it.  He writes works and completes them; I start a million different projects then abandon them when I get bored.

 As the pace of our lives has picked up and the day-to-day doesn’t look like it did five years ago, I put writing on the back burner.  It seemed the obvious choice to go.  There are only so many hours in my day, and almost everyone needs them.  I don’t resent this or even mind it most of the time, but I couldn’t deal with trying to squeeze a creative outlet in with the already ever-present demands in front of me. 

 D never gave up.  He somehow helped me co-parent our herd while completing a novel, an amazing novel that is now in the revisions phase and that I cannot wait for other people to read it.  I help him revise, and I am addicted to this work like it is crack on paper.  He has a gift.  He prioritized what he loved, and he treated it as a discipline, which is a task I never bothered to try. 

 While I was admiring Dennis’ abilities, I was also reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.  (Confession:  I am not as enamored with Lamott as most people who read her work.  I liked Bird by Bird best of all her books I’ve read, and I think she’s an amazing writer.  However, most people who have read her start their own fan clubs and try to collect locks of her hair.  I did not fall in love with her that way.  Sorry.  I feel somehow responsible for this.)  Anyway, Bird by Bird is a book about writing and was recommended to me in 2007 by another writer, Ken Gire.  I didn’t read it because I guess it wasn’t the right time in my life.  I needed the message saved for a few months ago when I turned through the pages and found truths I needed to hear, answers to the questions in my mind? 

Ø  Why write?  Because I need to write, every day, something. 

Ø  What about publication?  It probably won’t happen, and if it does, it probably won’t make us rich.  But that’s not the goal.  Satisfaction in creating is satisfaction in itself. 

Ø  What if it’s awful?  Revise a ton.  First drafts are supposed to be awful.

 Dennis knew this and had been trying to spread the message to me for years.  However, I was too productively minded, even giving up on blogging for a while because I couldn’t figure out why I was doing it.  Enjoying blogging and journaling our lives didn’t seem tangible enough.  I don’t make money- nor do I particular desire to-from the blog; it’s not leading to publication; it’s just me writing.  Lamott and D told me that was enough, and I finally had ears to hear it.

This revelation led to me picking up work on a novel I’ve been dreaming about, researching, and dabbling with for almost three years.  Again, I shelved it due to the what-ifs:  what if it never gets published?  What if I have to take it very slowly with all the other hats I wear?  What if it is just downright awful?  D and Lamott’s answer:  I will still have a book that I wrote, created, completed.  That’s enough. 

So, I’m helping revise D’s book, which I hope is published because it would be a disservice to humanity if it wasn’t (I’m only being slightly dramatic because it is AMAZING!)  And I’m writing pretty much every day, something besides a grocery list or a reminder to call or email someone.  It feels good.  God gave us joy in certain tasks, and I enjoy writing.  That, in itself, is enough.

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