“Put your ass where your heart wants to be and don’t ask anything else of yourself.”—Steven Pressfield.
I began to write this post for my other blog https://www.bestdamnwritersblog.com), and then I realized Pressfield’s advice applies to many endeavors, not just writing.
For Pressfield, it is writing.
He says he doesn’t worry about how many words he will write, about punctuation, or anything. He knows that if he sits for his allotted time per day (his is about 3 hours), in six months, he will have a book. In a year, two books.
Cool! It helps that he has some writing skills at his disposal.
True, I could probably write a book in six months, but from my experience, then it will take 6 years of rewriting and editing, and proofreading. Then does anyone what to read it? (Diabolical laughter.)
Maybe I need an attitude adjustment.
This morning, as I often do, I opened a book on writing as an oracle. I open the book to a random page, read a couple of paragraphs, and it sets me up for the day. Read an entire book on writing in one sitting, and your brain will go out to lunch, leaving you behind to starve. No, I take that back, read the entire book, then keep it around for a refresher.
This morning it was Steven King/On Writing:.
“Description is what makes the reader a sensory participant in the story. Good description is a learned skill.” (Oh, goodie.) “One of the prime reasons you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot.”
I don’t know what sensory experience. I want you guys to gain from reading this. It is non-fiction, which some successful writers say ought to be crafted as though it’s fiction.
I’m simply talking.
You are sitting in front of your computer. I am in front of mine. I use an external keyboard, for I simply cannot type on the computer’s keyboard--it drives me nuts. Maybe it’s because I learned to type on a typewriter. I like keys that pack a punch. And I have raised my screen to about eye level, as my Chiropractor suggested, so my back is straight. Whoops, I just straightened up.
I sit in front of a window, my favorite spot for writing.
I like to look up and see the green trees, the birdies flipping about, and if I raise up a bit, I can see my four chickens as they are in the backyard now. The area where they used to be behind the Wayback gave ample opportunity for the marauding raccoon to use them for snacks.
The pink dogwood tree I see out my window is replacing flowers with leaves. I really praise that ancient tree for recovering from its extreme cut-back. See how we can recover even if we are ancient.
Remember how in Hawaii, I sat at my desk by the window and watched the Morning Goddess slowly meticulously adjust the morning sunlight until it totally enlivened the acre of green between me and the Tiki room. Oh, maybe you weren’t reading me at that time—it’s been ten years. (Really? It seems like last week.)
And now, I open Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, a book I read when?? In 1986?! I don’t know; that’s when her book came out. Since I left the book behind in California, I re-bought it in Oregon. The following is from the 30th Anniversary Edition.
“If you capture that reality around you, your writing needs nothing else. You don’t only listen to the person speaking to you across the table but simultaneously listen to the air, the chair, and the door. Take in the sound of the season, the sound of the color coming through the windows.” (Color has a sound?) “The deeper you can listen, the better you will write the truth about the way things are… Jack Kerouac, in his list of prose essentials, said, ‘If you can capture the way things are, that’s all the poetry you will ever need.’”
I wonder how this meshes with my reading Joe Despensia’s book, Be Your Own Placebo, where I learned that the brain has “Plasticity, that is it re-invents itself according to what you experience and learn.
Isn’t that great? We aren’t “stuck” in anything.
My movie/book suggestions:
Movie: Operation Mincemeat, about a fantastic clandestine operation during WWII.
Book: David Michie’s The Dali Lama’s Cat; Awaken the Kitten Within.
“As kittens, all it takes is a windblown feather, an unexpected delicacy, or the alluring rush of water, and instantly we are caught up in it. Wonderment. Enchantment. Being fully absorbed in the here and now.”
Is it possible to recover the unaffected zest for life?
“Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all.”
—Vincent Van Gogh