Yesterday I wrote. All day I wrote.
Today is “errand and chore” day – I have laundry to do, we are going to clean up the 5th wheel, vacuum and clean the bathroom and scrub the stovetop… but yesterday, Pops went 4 wheeling with a neighbor and I was left to write to my heart’s content.
And write I did… nearly 13 pages on a new story. And not just rough pages either, they have been edited through the first initial pass. It’s a dozen full pages and a partial (the 13th) with some “spill-over” paragraphs.
Yesterday, it didn’t seem so important to determine where life was headed, I was having fun finding out where life was headed for my characters. Yesterday there were no literal mountains to climb, there were literary ones. And the “what am I going to do with my life” got put on hold for several hours.
And overnight I must have worked some of this out in my dreams. I’m a firm believer that dream-time is used to sort and to let the subconscious do it’s thing (something that it does well) and to make waking hours a bit less stressed and a bit more sane.
But I’ve noticed lately that over the last few weeks, probably a couple months or so, that my dreams aren’t the fanciful flights of weirdness that dreams usually are. I no longer find myself in imaginary houses that I somehow know well, or people I consider my friends and family that are unidentifiable upon waking (but who seem to be a mixture of several people I know). Nope, lately, my dreams have been pretty vanilla. I haven’t been flying. I haven’t been falling. I’ve spent my dreamtime doing average day things, dealing with people I actually know and working out issues that are crystal clear (and are the same ones, not even disguised, that I work on in my waking hours.)
Simply said, my dreams have been fairly boring extensions of my daily life lately.
I think it’s because I’ve been exhausting myself when conscious, and my dream time has been altered to give me a bit of sane time. *shrug* Either way, I think I’ve figured out a few things. I’ve been thinking alot about the things I wrote in Friday’s Blog — the things that I pieced together — and I think that perhaps I’ve already selected my mountain. I selected it some time back, but didn’t realize that the decision had already been made until this weekend.
You see, I’ve been writing for years. Even when I worked at the hospital, I spent my time finding new ways to communicate information, ideas and support to cancer patients, the family of those patients and the donors that helped to support our initiatives and our programs. For me, writing is one form of communication. Communication is what I’m all about. Writing is my favorite form, but not the only one I use.
So perhaps the mountain isn’t a writing career. Perhaps the mountain is a mountain of communication — and as I go up the mountain, I prefer the views from the “writing side” of the mountain. That would be MY side of the mountain. But one doesn’t scale a mountain up the sheer cliffs (unless one likes heights and working much harder than is necessary to get the same results.) I prefer to start at the base of my mountain and circle it, climbing
in elevation gradually and seeing the views from all sides and from different heights. But, by doing this, when I reach the “writing” side, I get all excited.
Those are my favorite views. But, since I enjoy the other views too, I feel selfish to want to limit my views to just that one. And, that side of my mountain is a bit more treacherous. The footholds are a bit less stable. There’s loose gravel. And, I can see that so many, historically, that have tried to scale just that side of the mountain are lying in heaps at the bottom.
So, I get worried and scared and feel that maybe I’m not the best mountaineer afterall, and I ease to the other side and pick up the path that circles around the mountain. I enjoy all the views and I gaze in wonder from each successive level — until I come back to the writer’s side of the mountain. This side always takes my breath away. I stay and climb here a bit, until I feel the first foothold give, the first gravel sprays down the side… and then I ease over and circle the mountain again. And the higher I get on the mountain, the better I like the view — but they are ALL good views.
So, with all that said, I think that maybe my life isn’t in need of selecting a mountain. I think that’s already accomplished. I’m enjoying my calling… so much so that I feel guilty from time to time — in between bouts with fear and doubt when I hit the writing side of the mountain.
But a wise person once said “Do something that scares you every day.” So, I plan to write something, anything that is fiction every day. Writing on the blog is not scary. Writing articles is not scary. Writing websites is not scary. Writing brochures, property descriptions, ad copy, ghost-writing… none of that scares me. But fiction… that’s scary and exhilarating at the same time. THAT moves me. Now, sometimes my non-fiction excites me, if I’m in a groove. If the words are flowing and I’m feeling the energy build… but non-fiction is easy for me. It’s not the same rush, because it’s not the same challenge. And I love the research portion of non-fiction, and was worried for many years that I’d lose that if I “made it all up” — but the truth is, I used the Internet multiple times during my intensive writing day yesterday. I had to look up when Labor Day happened, the meaning of certain character’s names, I had to see a virtual tour of a loft apartment in an unfinished state. I had to look up information about how factory windows in a certain time period usually looked. And there were dozens of other quick, but essential bits of information I needed to congeal my ideas into a feasible adventure in fiction.
You know, the mountain metaphor has really helped me. Climbing up and looking out and over, has put my life in perspective and has given me the much needed “AH-HA!” moments that I came here hoping to find. But I thought I’d have to dig deeper inside of me to find them. I thought I just needed to get away from the daily demands – even the ones I adore – in order to give myself the stretches of time needed to sort it all out. Uninterruptedtime. Long, luxurious blocks of time. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had those.
And I’m beginning to think that I need to finish out the cabin on the farm and retreat to THERE a day or two a week to write. If I can’t do it where the phone rings and the kids squeal, where my husband asks questions and clients email me- then perhaps I need to decide that it’s important enough to me, that I’m important enough to grab ahold and claim certain large blocks of time in my own life. Maybe it’s time I feel less guilty for doing what I want to do, and I learn to balance what I want (what my soul really needs) with what everyone else needs from me. Maybe now, I can do that. We have been here a week (tomorrow) and I’m making so much inner progress. I’m writing more than I’ve written in ages, and I’m finding options and solutions to continue this progress when I return to my “normal” life.
I also think a retreat like this every year is probably something I need to be able to keep my writing fresh and keep my energy flowing. Time will tell, but it seems to be the answer I was seeking. I’m starting to feel more certain. I’m starting to enjoy the path I’m on and I’m beginning to recognize that it’s the path I’ve chosen, not one that I’ve simply stumbled onto. And I think I’m going to be much less “freaked out” when I realize that I do enjoy the scenery from all sides of this particular mountain – and that’s ok, it’s not a requirement that I stick to a single side and scale just one cliff. But now, maybe I can also be ok with spending a bit more time on the scary side of my mountain, realizing that I can still circle through the other sides and make another, and another, and another pass at the writing side without fear that the writing side of the mountain will disappear if I take my eyes off it for a few minutes. I now feel confident that that side will remain in that same place, and it’s only me that circles around- it’s inevitable, having chosen THIS particular mountain, that I’ll be able to locate the writing side again, and I’ll be able to do so any time I want.
That brings me a great deal of relief.
I must say, I had a blast yesterday. And right now, I’m probably going to go and write a bit more before Pops wakes up.
Yes, I have laundry to do today, I have cleaning that needs accomplished, and I plan to go down to the shower house and soak under a hot shower until my entire body prunes up. (I promised myself that I’d do that today, since here in the camper, our hot water must be conserved or the shower turns cold before soap is rinsed from my hair.)
And I will do all these things today… but right now, while the place is still quiet, and even before I get breakfast or a shower….l think I want to go and “peek in” on my characters and see what they are up to. Samantha and her Nana need to have a real “heart-to-heart” conversation… and I think this morning is when they need to have it.
Have a great weekend!