Happy New Year!
It’s been a while.
I have been out of sorts. I wish I could say my absence has been due to progress on my novel or even spent sitting in my writing nook with my hands holding my head as I racked my brain for inspiration. Or at least with my face between the spine of a book. I’ll confess that I was doing none of these things.
But I have a good excuse. I was living. Yoga. Traveling. Puppies. Working on projects for organizations I love so much that it didn’t feel like work. For the first time in my life I actually woke up excited to work. But when I look back at 2018, I regret not creating, sharing, reading and thinking like a writer.
I just returned from 12 days on the west coast of Mexico soaking in the Sea of Cortez and swimming in the daily sunshine. It was wonderful and maybe a bit too long to be at the beach. I read a few books. Two by Jillian Lauren, a writer I admire and discovered through a favorite podcast and New York Times column, Modern Love. In her essay (Finding Marriage Without Losing a Self) she told the story of her many lives, which included time in a harem, overcoming heroin addiction, marrying a rock star and adopting a child. I added her memoirs to my read list and finally downloaded them to my Kindle. As I inhaled her words, she expressed a thought that resonated with me and made me think, “That’s me!” Lauren expressed her difficulty writing fiction because she is a memoirist.
Then and there I realized why I have been struggling to find motivation and compelling language to write a novel loosely based on my grandmother’s life. I can’t believe a memoir never occurred to me. I love reading others stories of people falling flat on their face, getting up, limping so persistently towards redemption, overcoming, persevering that they turn back at the top of their Everest, spitting out that mouth full of dirt and say, “F@#$ you, ______.” Basically, I can only write the truth and I can only write what is my truth. While my story contains no harems, heroin or rockstar husbands, I’m no stranger to redemption, overcoming and persevering. So I guess that’s what I must write.
And that’s all I know. I don’t have specifics. Maybe it’ll be about cancer, maybe it won’t. Maybe all that research I did with my grandmother will be intertwined or maybe I’ll write about yoga. It could be about traveling or turning trauma into triumph. Right now, the subject isn’t important. That will all work itself out in due time. It is just important that I write.
In order to do this, I must make room on my plate which currently contains little space.
I’m letting go of social media. I have tried so hard to control this addiction, but there comes a point where addicts must admit they’re powerless and that’s where I am. I don’t know why I care what everyone is doing, but I do know this is not how I should be spending MY time. If you see me on the socials, I ask for you to firmly tell me to get back to work.
I also seriously debated tossing my smart phone in the amnesty bin at O’Hare airport. Like everyone else in the modern world, I have become a slave to the handheld, information lightbox. My husband pleaded with me, citing practicality and told me about Kitchen Safe. So, I bought an extra-large one that currently contains my iPhone, iPad and home WiFi cable (this was posted after the timer expired and my devices were released).
Okay, I must get to work.
We’ll be talking again soon since this blog will be an important part of the process.
“Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred.
What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all.
We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits.
We are terrified, and we are brave.
Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege.
Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us.
Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise – you can make anything.
So please calm down now and get back to work, okay?
The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.”
Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert