Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Then and now

I always thought of myself as a writer, but when I was younger writing wasn't something I could do every day. In fact, it was something I often put off doing. A lot. Oh, good, some time to myself...a perfect chance to get some writing done... Just let me get something to eat. No, I'm not going to put tv on. Maybe just to see the weather. I wonder if the mail's here yet. God, I've been staring out the window for 5 minutes. I better wash out my teacup. You know, I'm still hungry...

Writing was painful partly because I was intolerant of failure and of doing things over. That much I knew, back then. In that era I ran across an incident from a biography of the painter Duncan Grant. When he was in art school, his mentor told him he should paint every day -- even if it wasn't any good, just paint, in order to get into the habit of it. Of course I used this incident to beat myself up a little. And then I scoffed. That's just not the kind of writer I am. I work slowly. Yes, that's it -- slowly, but well.

Somewhere along the line, however, things changed. When I began writing "again," after a long off period (never truly off, but not really planning things), I didn't dread writing any longer. I looked forward to working, I felt confident about what was coming next in the story, and wrote pretty much anywhere I was and in pretty much any medium. If things didn't work, I went back and re-wrote them, and I was able to do it this time with tears and agita. I wish I could claim some great insight or drive for this change, but I can't. I guess it was just time and maturity. And one day I looked back and I fully understood why and how Duncan Grant painted every day and how basic such a thing is. Do I still have problems? Do I still have to sit or pace and work things out, slowly, over weeks sometimes? Yes. But I don't fear writing anymore. I don't put it off.

And this has held true, particularly in the past month, no matter if the day brings work crises, holidays, headaches, bad weather, early darkness, moments of gloom and fear -- the tumult of life that's so ugly and unruly close up. Something is written, at least a little bit, to the best of my ability.


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Congratulations, Laura. That is a huge accomplishment to reach that place as a writer.
I was surprised to learn that I could write as much per day as I did during NaNoWriMo, but after that ended I slacked off. I'm hoping to make writing every day as ordinary as making my morning cup of coffee.

Laura Canon said...

Thanks, Tricia. Frankly, what you did during that month leaves me in awe.