Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Live to Write, Write to Live


I shall live badly if I do not write, and I shall write badly if I do not live.
 ~ Francoise Sagan, playwright and novelist (1935-2004)

Judging from Francoise Sagans biography, this quote has more to do with her passion for writing and life, but it seemed to speak to me in these wee hours about a theme of resilience that is chiming in my life lately. I’ve been crazy busy, otherwise known as crazee bizee ( with eyes appropriately crossed).This is as good an excuse as I can muster for not posting at Jellyfish Day for six weeks. But heck, I’ve edited a children’s chapter book, nearly completed an eight-month stint of back and forth editing with a client on his memoir, reconnected with an old client in preparation to assist with her upcoming book, not to mention manning my post seven days a week at my 20-some odd hour telecommute job. I’ve also socialized my darn networks faithfully, served as a World Book Night giver, and took a day off to attend the Los Angeles Times Book Festival, not to mention fanning the hearth fires at home and assisting with same at my eldest daughter’s when she felt overwhelmed by the 24 / 7 childrearing  grind.

In other words, I’ve rolled with the punches and popped back up with a little more pluck than I had before. Not that I wanted to sign up for any life-changing experiences, but stuff has a way of happening. By now I’ve been around the block a few times, both age-wise and as a writer. Some events that used to be jarring seem like no more than a jog in the saddle. Applying butt to chair and writing no matter what happens around us or inside our heads pays off handsomely  (although I can never seem to do this for the darn blog!)

Within this frenzy of being present here, there, and everywhere at once, one of my younger offspring decided to withdraw from the secondary education that thrilled him no end during his first term, a program in a  one-of-a-kind collegiate music school he’d worked his posterior off to enter. He returned home this week, right about the time I'd suddenly and without good reason acquired a large breed dog, an adoption that manifested, I suppose, from loneliness and discontent with an empty nest . . . Now my big boy has a big dog, so this tale whistles with a good ending. The extra bonus is that we cleaned and rearranged the entire house, a process that makes everything feel new and benefits beings and creative flow.

Ultimately, life seems to be nothing more than a process of changing gears. This is sounding suspiciously like a chat we had recently about impermanence, so I wouldn’t want to bore you with another. You know all about making sundogs out of jellyfish, how to keep going, and other fine points of perseverance. We furless, bipedal monkeys with opposable thumbs pretty much discover that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger at a very young age.

Our writing lives really aren’t separate from our ordinary daily lives. The same rules apply. Sometimes putting pen to paper seems no different than digging a grave with a rusty shovel in permafrost. At other times, we slice through our prose like a hot stainless steel blade through soft butter. Sometimes we tell our characters or our paragraphs to go left and they go right, but on better days, they write their scenes for us. Or we order our words to rise and they fall, making our prose stutter when our intention is flow. Our work wanders when we give it a map and when we want to explore unknown territory, the work refuses to leave its cushy bed. Sometimes it throws off the covers and goes on a sudden flight of fancy that leaves us breathless with surprise.

By applying patience, persistence, and the skills we master through study and steady writing practice, we overcome the mental and mechanical obstacles that impede our writing, and manage the wild stampedes of imagination that that leave us with reams of interesting but unpolished work.

One way or another, we make do with what life gives us, and somehow we survive to push forward and write another day. As we allow our lives to unfold without judgement, responding to each moment or urgency in whatever way seems appropriate, so our writing falls into place if we give it the space to flourish and grow in its own time.

Hopefully there’s a story in here somewhere!