In the fall of 2000 I started writing a novel. The only creative writing I had done up to that point in my life was angst-ridden teenage poems and journal entries. I don’t know why the urge hit me when it did, but I can tell you the precise minute the desire washed over me. I remember where I was. I remember who I was with. I remember exactly what we were doing.
I was smitten.
Those first few months were a whirlwind. I wrote every spare second I could find. At the time, I had a one-year-old and three-year-old to care for, so the days were full. Oh, yes, and there was this: I didn’t want anyone to know I was writing.
I was painfully embarrassed by what seemed to be an impossible dream. I felt silly and impractical. But I couldn’t help it. The story filled my mind every waking second. It begged to be told.
My husband traveled a good bit for work during those early years, and though I missed him when he was away, my electronic typewriter (aka Herman) was a welcome consolation. I still remember how it felt when I pulled old Herman out from under the bed. My hands would shake, my whole body tremble; my heart rate accelerated and my tummy filled with butterflies.
I was in love.
While I no longer hide my desire to write, I understand some of what Julia Cameron says in this week’s book club readings from The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life:
If we learn to write from the sheer love of writing, there is always enough time, but time must be stolen like a quick kiss between lovers on the run…
Cameron addresses The Time Lie this week–that is, the excuse we all have made that we just don’t have enough time to write.
The trick to finding writing time, then, is to write from love and not with an eye to product…The obsession with time is really an obsession with perfection. We want enough time to write perfectly…Nothing communicates more clearly than love…When we let ourselves write from love, when we let ourselves steal minutes as gifts to ourselves, our lives become sweeter…
When I wrote that first novel, I sometimes would stay up until two or three in the morning … writing. I simply couldn’t tear myself away. This with two toddlers in the house. The added sleep deprivation was worth it to me. If I got home early from work, I drug Herman out…even for a meager twenty minutes! When my husband went for a run, I would write. I looked for opportunities to be alone with my typewriter. I never missed a chance to rendezvous with Herman.
Cameron refers to this “grabbing” of time as “more like making a patchwork quilt than unfolding bolts of limitless and serene silk.”
I understand, Julia. I understand.
This chapter especially spoke to me, helping me recall my first love. This week we also read how writing helps us map our interiors (laying track) and how “in order to be a good writer,” we have “to be willing to be a bad writer.”
What spoke to you in this week’s readings? Was there a particular initiation tool that got the creative juices flowing?
Three more chapters for next week. That’s This Writing Life through Drama. See you there!