July has been busy and peppered with the unexpected. We are waiting for news, suspended in itchy transition, anxious and hopeful. I love the way the writer Kathleen Siddell describes this feeling in a recent essay. “We’re conditioned, very early, to not like waiting. It has the tendency to make us feel both paralyzed and somewhat frenetic—like running along a hamster wheel—consuming us but getting us nowhere. But there is always the silver lining: Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying.”
I look forward to escaping this particular waiting place. In the meantime, I did myself a kindness. While my daughter was with her grandparents yesterday–hallelujah for grandparents!–I had a few hours to write. After a stretch at the library, I relocated to a nearby cafe. It was 2pm and I hadn’t eaten all day, so I ordered a sandwich and an iced tea. It felt incredibly indulgent. Rarely do I treat myself to small things. Rarely do I add an element of fun or relaxation to my writing time.
I needed a reminder that it’s possible to work joyfully. Sari Wilson did just that in her recent essay on Catching Days, where she dances us through her day. I especially loved her description of first-draft writing. “This very early stage of writing is the most fun for me. It feels like a love letter to a future world, a future self, or a future reader. Writing in this stage can feel like dipping into a stream and pulling out a fish, wriggling, slippery, fresh, a bit wild—how often I throw it back in!”
That last sentence made me think of my young writer self scribbling away on notebook paper, rewriting and revising, never once thinking about publication. Writing propelled by pure pleasure. I wonder if the way back to that place–if there is one–is being more gentle with myself. I don’t know why I find this so challenging, but I do.
Today, a fresh start. The humid air has cleared and the sun is shining. I will strive to be gentle. I will wait out the waiting place. And maybe I’ll dip into that stream of first draft writing.
(Post 183 of 365)