“These, then, are an artist’s goals: to work and to affirm the value of that work; to find success and make success; to play a role in the maintenance of culture and to affirm the value of that role; to find love, provide love, and affirm the value of love; and to minimize self-hatred and despair…” ~ Eric Maisel, Affirmations for Artists
Today, as most days, I followed routine. Dear heaven, I love my rut for the bit of security it gives my psyche. 8:45 am, and I reached the part in my routine when I bring the tea tray to my office–I scurry, as if any moment someone is apt to stop me with a tap on my shoulder– and sit down in front of my computer to work on a writing project. My goal is to pay attention to this work that feeds my soul, and hopefully my pocketbook, too. It is dedication to my writing craft that holds value for me.
But there are other things that hold value, too, other places where I find success, and that is in relationships. I had a letter from a cousin and I wanted to respond, and some letters from friends. When I applied the idea of first things first, communicating with family and friends came first this morning, because tonight was already spoken for. Only after I was into the communication did I realize that I was writing after all. Not on the project at the moment, but writing from my heart in the same way. And I was honoring what I value as my role in the great scheme of culture. And sometime in the future, all of what I expressed to these loved ones, all I heard from them, goes into making me who I am. All of it feeds the writer-me.
A writer writes every day. Letters count.
The artist who, craving solitude, achieves it too little, feels sad and cheated; a dozen busy days are no substitute for one rich hour of solitude. ~ Eric Maisel, Affirmations for Artists
On Sunday morning, after a full week of enjoying grandchildren and contending with responsibilities of elder care and a busy household, I got four hours of solitude. It was not at all planned, but a time dropped in my lap: here, a blessing.
A rainy morning. I curled in an overstuffed chair in the living room with my journal and books, questions and prayers. Several times I cocked my ear. Silence in the house. Unbelievable. I could hear the birds outside. I think I began to breath for the first time in a week. I had not noticed I wasn’t breathing fully, until I began to do so. By the time people came knocking at my world, I felt energized and eager to see them. I felt as if I’d been plugged in and recharged by the hours of solitude where I could hear myself think some surprising thoughts.
The effect of those hours of solitude on my mind, spirit, and body is stark proof to me that I need that sort of withdrawal from the world on a regular basis. I’ve been aware of this need, and I’ve even written about it, but I think now I know that I know that I know. It is akin to an engine’s need for oil. Just this morning I took my car in to have the oil changed. I am as regular as clockwork about this, for I know the better I provide what my car engine needs, the longer it will last. I don’t just wait for the oil and time to change it to show up–I schedule it.
It is time that I began scheduling my solitude, and great swaths of it. It doesn’t matter what others think of my need and behavior. I know that in order to keep operating my best, even sometimes operating at all, I need time alone to listen to the silence, to dream, to explore, and just to be.
“Experiment. Try something new. Maybe you won’t like it. Maybe you’ll make a mistake. But maybe you will like it, and maybe you’ll discover something you love.” ~ Melody Beattie, Language of Letting Go.
Monday morning, and I looked at all I had to do. I tried to jettison some things that were not truly ‘have-tos’. Couldn’t find any. In fact, I thought of a few more things that had been put off too long. I ended up taking one of those things and jumping in to do it. Nothing at all to do with writing–it was making up a nutritious mash for my spring chicks. But I enjoyed doing it, and learned that sometimes I have to vary my schedule. Doing chores, especially ones that take me outside, renews my energy.
Then it was up to the sanctuary of my office. That habit, one I found by experimenting and putting writing time and solitude time first, has been established. It keeps me going, even though today’s schedule is not about actual writing. Today my focus is on publishing and making order here and there. The writer craft has evolved, and I’m evolving with it. I’m experimenting, and I have to say that I’m enjoying a great deal of managing my own properties. I really do!
I’ve read from several books on writer craft, as is my habit on Monday. What has popped up to me is the admonition to be open to new ideas, to jettison preconceptions. Funny, but each of the writers then tells me how to do it, and from his own ideas of what he is sure is the right way.
You know what–today, this week, I am going to jettison a lot of my preconceived ideas, as well as what so-called experts put forth, and I’m going to experiment with the wisdom that comes from inside myself.
I think in doing this I will be experimenting with what makes me happy.
God bless y’all,