Wednesday, January 15, 2014
How I Will Live 2014
I will live 2014 as a writer.
Yes, I’ve written almost daily for decades but I have recently realized that I often do things that are neither nourishing nor obligatory because of a semi-conscious belief that was breathed in from birth- the belief that I must continually earn the right to do what I love.
On New Year’s Eve I watched a lecture by American author Ray Bradbury. His enthusiasm for writing and life was unbounded, and his wisdom was applicable to so many things in our lives. He urged the students in attendance to write three lists of ten things they loved, hated and feared- and write about all of them. He insisted that if you have writer’s block it is because you aren’t writing about something you care about and should stop. He maintained that writing is not work and if it feels like work, you should quit and do what brings you joy, do what you love.
Bradbury made me remember how much I love to write. He reminded me that I have always written for the discovery and the surprises, for the joy of it. And, in his absolute certainty that we each have a right to live our particular way of fulfilling our role as a witness that celebrates the magnificence of creation and life in ourselves and in the world. . . . I found a sense of permission. I leaned into his certainty that we did not have to earn the right to be what we are. I felt the onerous burden of having to earn this right dissolve in the heat of his passion.
Clearly, the timing was right for me to watch this video.
I went to sleep a few minutes past midnight on New Year’s Eve thinking, “I will live this year as a writer.”
What does that mean? Well, it means remembering that everything that crosses my path or comes to my mind, heart and senses is available to spark a story, a poem, a metaphor. It means that choices about whether or not to socialize or take a course or wash the kitchen floor (yes, every writer has their own optimal level of chaos and order, cleanliness and dirt that enhances the writing process) are subject to the question: Does this serve the writing?
It means that I will not resist the urge to write, will not veer away from the computer when my fingers itch for the keyboard because it is time when I “should” be doing yoga or meditating or shopping or getting ready for bed. Those things that keep me ready and able to write- like good food and exercise- will fit around the writing and not the other way around as has often been the case in the past.
It means I will live as a writer and not an author- without concern for what is marketable or timely, without worrying about publishing contracts or a decent advance.
It means I will read what makes me want to write: essays that are filled with exquisite metaphor and meaning, stories and poems spilling over with well-crafted sentences I wish I’d written.
It means I will write every day because, as Bradbury says- for a writer, not writing every day will make you sick- if not in body, surely in the heart.
I will live 2014 as a writer.
How will you live this new year that spreads out before us empty and waiting, willing to be filled with what brings you joy and celebrates Life?
Oriah House (c) 2014