Something, Anything

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.  – Ernest Hemingway

According to Alex Zalben in his article, How to Write When You Have Nothing To Write About, I have “trained my brain to not want to write.”  Okay, I believe that.  My brain has potato-ed.  It lounges about in a starchy netherworld, working only by necessity—hungry for entertainment.

Feed me Seymour.

The excuses to not write are plentiful, must we repeat?
• I’m no good
• I’m not even (well, true, not-writers don’t write )
• Time
• Ideas
• Blah, blah, blah… (even while writing this, my brain says this list could be better, witty, funnier, and I would be wise to consider ditching the lot)

Perhaps it’s time to retrain my brain.

Zalben assures this is possible. He shares his failsafe method which involves starting and finishing one terrible piece before moving on the the next slightly less terrible one. Take comfort, his words are kinder and more encouraging than mine.

Another approach, from the article, What to Write When You Have Nothing to Say, Kyle G. Jones (quoting an example from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) suggests looking at a single brick of a building, on a street, in a town, of a country. Just one brick. Then, “stick your nose up against the brick.” Get right up in there, against its smallest detail. Focusing in will provide the opportunity to see something in an original way instead of thinking about what others have already said. Write about this one brick, then the next one. Eventually something unique and original will be built out of these bricks.

voilà!

Oh, to be a lean mean writing machine…

Outside the Canopy

Earlier this summer, two young squirrels built a nest in a tree just outside my second-story office window. Every day I watched them climb, wrestle, canoodle, and generally monkey around, as I supposed, young squirrels do. I looked for them. A coworker brought binoculars to gain a closer view. Occasionally, one of them would settle out on the edge of the springy pine branch I though of as their balcony.

One afternoon I corner-eyed a peripheral glance of a hawk swooping past.

At home, when I first moved in, three century-old trees in back provided shelter and shade beneath their dense canopy. Either age or sickness, or both, overwhelmed two of these giants years ago. They were removed. Somewhat expected, I anticipated their loss and was relieved yet by the one tree still standing.

Last week a storm whipped through, felling a good portion of this tree. Shortly after, workers arrived and saw-whipped away the remaining half. Now there’s a giant sky (and sun)-filled vacancy behind the house. Even the front of the house feels empty.

We feel this loss. And these are small losses—what then with big grief?

Habitually, I hold fast wherever I am, braced against the pain of the unavoidable.  Effective? Not a bit. Side effect: Stuck. Every which way I am stuck. Right now, I am stuck (painful 200 words!).

Being stuck, I have begun to realize, is uncomfortable. Stuckness carries along its own variety of pain that grows ever more burdensome over time. Besides, it gets boring stuck here. perhaps it’s time to venture out from beneath the canopy.

The squirrel pair did. And whether the hawk got its dinner, or not, they’ve moved on.

All the Good

Confession: This blog has been stuck like deep-cornered lint in my back pocket for over two years. At long last, day one, post one.

That’s not true. Before, I published three, no, two posts before my efforts stalled, knee deep in the day-to-day. I shrugged my shoulders and resigned.

No, not shrugged off. I hated myself for abandoning, yet again, this one key undertaking that would, perhaps, slide in place unlocking purpose and fulfillment in my life. Ugh.

Too heavy. No wonder I dropped the blog like a rock off an already sinking ship. Lighten up, it’s time.

Honestly, don’t we want All the Good to walk right in, side-door-comfortable, family-like, no invitation required, and lay life’s gifts at our feet while we lounge in comfy chairs sipping iced tea? Maybe that’s just me.

“Trust the process” we hear. Show up willing to be vulnerable. Try. Let things be messy. Keep showing up and trust that whatever honest jumble-y openness is the difficult stuff that might, just might open that side door for something unexpected, possibly even good.

I’m here. I’ll write. I’m nowhere near comfortable. Still, I’m willing to try. How about you? It’s all good.