I used to take my laptop, my journal and a stack of poems to be typed out everywhere I went. Like, literally. I saved up and bought this gorgeous black leather book bag (‘cuz every writer should own a leather book bag, right?) to put all my jazz in, and I took it with me everywhere.
I took it to my ‘day job’, which had nothing to do with writing, for one. And for two, I was too busy working to even open it. It would sit on the floor, leaning up against the leg of my desk…patiently waiting for me to pay attention. A quick glance. A yearning sweep of fingers across the front. I gave it nothing but internal want…
Yeah…talk about baggage.
I carried this bag around filled with my dreams – literal and figurative. Inside this bag was my laptop; my finished YA novel nestled sweetly in its magical inner-workings along with hundreds of pages of other writing – poetry, plays, screenplays, articles, blogs, unfinished short stories, etc.. Not to mention saved blog posts on agents, the writing biz, writing contests and ‘to-do’ lists miles long. My writing life was in this bag.
And I truly believed that if I carried it around with me then my dreams were always with me. It was a tangible reminder of what I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, what I wished I was do-ing while I was everywhere in my life.
Heck. This bag got heavier and heavier, as baggage often does become. You can imagine how the sight of one’s dreams leaning against a desk leg, slumped on floor, hanging off one’s shoulder can also make it extremely difficult to do anything else. How can one possibly get through an energy-sucking, completely uncreative ‘day job’ as her sweet dreams were a reach away? Literally.
I even carried it with me to the hospital day-in-and-day-out while my grandfather was dying. Like I’d be able to write while I was with him…maybe tap a few lines of a poem while he slept. Yeah – there was no way. My bag, and all the dreams it held inside, became WAY TOO HEAVY.
I had to leave the bag.
Twenty-thirteen is about letting go of old ways. Of old ways of being that caused more grief than joy – even if I didn’t realize it for over thirty years. I’ve carried a back pack or a bag with me for as long as I can remember. And this is on top of my ‘purse’. If you look through my bag collection, you’ll find that all of my bags are big enough to carry a journal and a novel. All. Of. Them.
So how was I to change this way of being that I’d told myself was my connection to my writing life? To all my writing dreams? To all the things I wished I was working on every day – even when there was no way I could actually be doing them?
I had to make a scary choice. A risky choice. A life-changing choice. I had to choose to live in my moments – and here’s the kicker – even if they weren’t writing related.
I had to let myself let go of the writing so I could accept and receive and be grateful for whatever moments I was actually living. Because I was filled with angst all the time, thinking about all the writing I wasn’t doing. And I was only semi-THERE in my life. And then, when I’d finally sit down to write…I was exhausted. My confidence was buried somewhere in the back yard. I felt like I’d missed all the ‘right’ times to write earlier in the day.
Hemingway writes: Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day…it you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start…As soon as you start to think about it stop it. Think about something else. You have to learn that. (From Ernest Hemingway on Writing, edited by Larry W. Phillips, pg. 42)
I really took this information to heart. And I to life.
Now, I don’t take it with me. I write when I write. I write when the time comes (whether it is planned or whether it brilliantly opens up for me – like now), and I’m ready to write now. Always. I do my best not to worry. To wish I was writing. I’m doing my best to be fully in the moments of my life. The words won’t go away. The characters won’t disappear.
And the time opens up. It really does. I bet if I compared the amount of time I spent writing last year to the amount of time I’m writing so far this year, the amounts are comparable.
It’s not easy. I find I’m going to my ‘idea’ notebook more often these days so I can write down ideas and not forget them. Re-visit them lated. When it’s time to write.
Ah. And the dreams have not died. Nor have they dwindled. They’ve grown. Become more focused. More realistic. More attainable. And my confidence is in the house now. Dug up out of the muddy yard. Sometimes, it’s even on my lap. Who knew?
Do you take it with you?
I had to look at the difference between bring and take to write this blog. Did I get it right? Write the correct use of bring and the correct use of take in the comment section and you could win this: