Sunday, May 16, 2010
I am doing something I haven't done for awhile -- coaching a writing colleague. My friend Kristyn has had some ... um... interesting experiences the past few years. Experiences that are her's to tell and she has decided to begin writing about them. She asked me to help. So I have been making her write -- certain lengths, certain subjects, and so forth. And then coaching her on stuff like cliches (avoid them like the plague), punctuation (avoid too many exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!), deleting tautologies (though baby puppies are sooo cute), and so forth.
But she's not the only one I'm making write. I am also making myself write.
It may surprise non-writers (aka readers!) but many writers have to force themselves to write. Well, some do anyhow. Okay, well, I do.
I enjoy having written -- the moment when it's done. Looking back over the words that have appeared is downright satisfying. But I can put off starting forever.
For a guy who makes (somewhat) his living w/ words, writing is always hard work and I'll do most anything to avoid it. This rainy, damp Indiana day has found me up in my office listening to music (Over the Rhine and a bunch of stuff clabbered together from various Paste magazine music samplers) and writing.
I tried to avoid it by thinking I should reorganize my bookshelves (too many books, spilling out all over the floor and stacked upon one another int he shelves) but finally told myself to get to work.
So I did and the day was actually somewhat productive. There may be a sentence or two or even a paragraph I can keep.
And so I find myself musing, Why is it so hard to get started? I know I'll enjoy it once I get going. I love the creative process. I sometime amaze myself with the excellent word usage I can devise -- and then promptly delete that particular piece since I know that I am too easily amazed! While my friend Chuck is fond of quoting Chesterton that "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly" (which always brings a smile), what I am doing feels to me too important to do badly. Even if it -- like the short stories I compose -- may never see the light of print.
I have decided that I delay for a couple of reasons -- one is that I am naturally lazy. Many people think of me as a hard worker who gets things done ahead of schedule, but the fact is I work hard and get things done ahead of schedule because it's easier than not doing so.
A second reason is because I am my own boss in this. Nobody is making me do this at a certain time. And I am easily distracted by books that need reshelved or Joan Osborne's "Cathedrals" or... hey, there's a deer walking through the prairie as I write this!
And a third reason is that writing is important work and sometimes it gives me pause that I even attempt to undertake it. Who am I to be so audacious as to put thoughts to pixels and then into paper? What have I to share that is worthy of being shared and read and contemplated? I a person who is still in awe of real writers.
But, I am called to write. I believe that. And so, unlike Jonah who even argued with God to avoid getting started on what he was called to do, I do make it to the point where almost every day I apply the seat of my pants to the seat of my chair and turn on the computer. And begin writing. After only one or two games of "Spider Solitaire" and checking my email.
And perhaps it's ultimately because I hear the angel in Revelation 10. "Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, 'There will be no more delay!'"