Ripping Through Life only to R.I.P.

I spent countless years rushing around checking things off my list. Collecting life, not living it.  Putting it all neatly in one of my specially picked happy, serious, goofy, artsy whatever mood I was in  journals.  I did this jammed in between getting to work by 7AM  and returning exhausted by 8PM.  Writing with weary eyes as I  lifted my tired arm with my special pen that I knew would make my writing sparkle.

Then I made a major life change and quit my day job. My husband and I sold the condo, took the money and moved to Paris.  My land of dreams.  Now I would write, I had time, (which I always had, why do we forget time surrounds us?)  Anyway,  I put all that gathered info in my novel, but I was writing with a checklist.  Right pen, right paper, right chair, right structure, right grammar, right blah,blah,blah.  My writing was correct, it checked all the boxes as a story, but It was just a checklist put to prose.

I sat surrounded by rejection slips and nice comments  your style is good, you have something here, but needs development, good voice but needs more, etc.   I looked and looked where was that something. I was in Paris, had lots of free time, was surrounded by creativity and beauty, what the hell.  I cried, felt sorry for myself, cried, felt lost, got mad, felt worthless, cried some more, if I wasn’t a writer what was I?  Don’t you automatically become a writer if you move to Paris with the right pen?  Was I doomed to be uncreative?

As I walked towards one more museum to be inspired by other people’s art, it hit me, I was ripping through Paris, as I had everywhere else, checking things off – sit in cafes, eat cheese, go to museums, always have a baguette in kitchen etc. ripping through my list, I missed the seeing part. To see is to experience, to look is to direct your eyes at an object. I had been looking , big difference. I realized what was missing from my writing.  I took my time and sat in the space between no longer and not yet before I picked up my pen again.  ( the special one I can’t give up)

I stopped reproducing clichés and was totally open to life. I realized writing should be like a good photograph, an unanticipated image that reveals the world in a new light not another description of a sunset.

It doesnt’ matter whether you are in Nebraska or Paris, what you write with or on what, if you can catch fleeting reality on the page.  Seeing is being fully present and engaged, which can turn hours into minutes.  Life is short and always getting shorter, be present now.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. SWiM cinema
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 12:54:21

    Very good advice, I particularly like the phrase ‘catch fleeting reality on the page’, no small task to achieve but definitely the ideal target when doing art.


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