Being Still

So, you may notice that I haven’t posted any entries since last December, because I still haven’t cracked the insanely hard nut of making time in my daily schedule to write.  I know there are those writers–some great ones in fact–who swear that they don’t adhere to a schedule or write every day…  And yet, writing every day is what I preach to my workshop students and writing clients because somehow, I believe in it.  Walter Mosley’s advice about showing up each day–if only for a few minutes to re-read a paragraph or jot down a few notes–seems grounded and true to me; an essential nugget of wisdom for anyone who is struggling to keep the world of their writing alive and present in the onslaught of every day life…

Is it my imagination, or has that onslaught become more pervasive and inescapable than ever before?

Today, for instance, I was supposed to meet a client in town for breakfast at 10 and I arrived at my destination 40 minutes early–an anomaly for me.  What can I say–the carpool drive took way less time than I’d bargained for and I found myself sitting in a near-empty restaurant with shockingly little to do.   I’d forgotten to bring my computer, and my cell phone was dead–I failed to plug it in the night before–so I couldn’t engage in my usual time-killing, multi-tasking frenzy of answering emails, updating my Facebook and twitter posts, checking my calendar, working on my website….  I walked back to my car, thinking that I must have a phone charger in there somewhere, or perhaps I left my laptop in the back… but alas–the universe was not going to provide me with any digital devices this morning.  I didn’t even have a student manuscript to read, though there were several waiting on my desk at home.  The shops in town weren’t open yet, so I couldn’t go birthday shopping for my daughter.  There was nothing, in fact, that I could check off the insidious and inescapable List.

It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that I sort of panicked then.  Really.  A wave of unadulterated terror washed over me and I had the impulse to bolt–to run through the streets of town like a crazy woman searching for someone with a cell phone charger to accost–but then, I reached into my pocketbook and discovered a brand new notebook I’d tucked there three months ago, perhaps in anticipation of a moment just like this one–a moment where I had nothing else pressing.

And so, in the remaining 20 minutes before my client arrived, I cracked open that notebook and wrote.  I started out ranting about my predicament, which led me to reflect a little deeper on how list-mind has taken over my life, which eventually led to this blog.  It felt so fantastic to write, I was reluctant to stop when my client arrived, then went back to it after we were finished…

E.B. White famously stated that if we wait for ideal conditions under which to write, we will die without putting word on paper.  The same is true if we wait for a less busy time.  Life seems to get busier all the time as we’re expected to do more and more, and as our digital devices allow us constant access to work.  My unplugged 40 minutes in a cafe this morning reminded me…

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