no, seriously. i really, really mean this.

2 12 2008

new rule for self:

writing is an obligation.

that sounds awful, from somebody who loves to write, who in many (however wrongheaded) sense somewhat lives to write, who would much rather talk about it in terms like “gift” and “joy” and “freedom” and “generative creativity” etc. etc., but the harsh realities are these:

i only make time for things i feel like i have to do, because the haves have ballooned out into taking over everything–i have spent this entire semester living surrounded by crumbs and cat hair and things tossed on the floor, which is completely out of character for me, because the planning/grading/etc has to be done and the keeping up with my own living space has to go lower on the priority scale (and common spaces take priority over my own room, so the house is only a mess, whereas my room is a sty)–and so unless i make something a have-to, it happens rarely if ever at all.

it’s hard for me to justify doing that, “making” something i want into something i’m obligated to accomplish (as evinced by how i created an obligation with ariel to write poetry and then utterly failed to follow through–social pressure and letting other people down usually works for me, but the little voice that said “this is still selfish, and the work comes first!” got louder and louder until it took over). really hard. feels-like-being-self-absorbed-and-princessed-and-shitty hard. but i’m going to have to do it anyway. have to.

because i’m not me enough these days anymore. i’m too busy putting all of my thought and energy into everyone else’s words–students’ words, friends’ words, teacher-words, other-people’s-mirror-words–and if that were just something that i wasn’t all that happy about, for me, i’d let it go anyway, but it’s keeping me from being good at the other things i have to be good at, like being that friend, that teacher, that daughter, that sister, all of those people “me” is already obligated (wholly willingly) to contain. i’m annoyed by christmas being around the corner, because to do christmas well i actually have to be a person, grounded in it, interacting in real ways with other people, and i’ve been too busy to person–it’s like i’ve misplaced person-ness among the crumbs and cat-hair on the floor (although i know it’s really more like i’ve misplaced it in student folders & in tire-tracks all along the highway, but the first metaphor feels more real, and that’s a voice i’ve been too remiss in listening to).

the other night, i was reading through a friend’s old journals & thinking about what it was like, back when i wrote so much more often, to be that generatively involved in self-creation, to be something because i was always weaving words to create that something. and then after i went to bed he wrote his own post about life in the here-and-now that was a gorgeous tapestry of weaving, and i was all stirred into jealousy and inspiration, but i didn’t do anything except throw a compliment or two and get back to work. and then this morning i read what ariel did to my thanksgiving post, which i’m still too in awe (and dizzy from the implications–i have words! other people can find them, even when i’m too scattered to sit down and look!) over to comment on directly, and i added that (and stirred) to what these young women in my morning class have been saying in their reflections about the narrative writing they did early in the semester being their favorite–two who, against my advice, they picked things that were recent and hard to deal with, both of whom said doing the writing helped them come to terms with the thing and move on which was part of what allowed them to be in a place where they could take on the hard stuff of college writing–plus what one kid, who’s had a terrible semester, had to say about the deaths and illnesses in his family this term and how they triggered this writer’s block that he’s been fighting and failing and fighting to get over.

what that recipe yields is this: i need to be writing, not for selfish “being in touch with my feelings” reasons but in order to be who i am enough to do the things i do, the things that matter to me. i can’t just keep “being too busy”–it doesn’t just make me frustrated and cranky, it unmakes me. and being stubborn about that all semester, trying to be so “good” about doing almost always all work all the time, has left me blind to some of the very lessons i’m trying to teach, such that i need my students, and the internet, to pipe up to teach me.

please help me remember this. it’s been a long time coming, and i’ve made a number of false starts this term, making variations on the “i’m going to start having more to say” pledge, but this is important. and i’m not sure, based on recent practice, that i can trust myself to act like it’s important amidst other pressures (i’m acutely aware of how much work i could have gotten done while i’ve been writing even this), and i’m likely to need help to keep me in it.

if you read this far, will you do me the favor of saying so in a comment, even if that’s all you say? i’m kinda curious to see who even looks anymore, after all of the blanks and less-than-thoughtful rattling… (i get that nobody cares about my wordles, which is fine, but i’d like to know who reads my actual words!)

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50 responses

2 12 2008
pictsy

Hey
I give you permission to write. šŸ™‚

2 12 2008
tyra

Re: Hey
thank you! i hope i shall! šŸ˜€

2 12 2008
tyra

Re: Hey
thank you! i hope i shall! šŸ˜€

2 12 2008
pictsy

Hey
I give you permission to write. šŸ™‚

2 12 2008
ryv_m

I read. Please keep writing! šŸ™‚

2 12 2008
tyra

okay! (encouragement does increase likelihood–neat!)

2 12 2008
tyra

okay! (encouragement does increase likelihood–neat!)

2 12 2008
ryv_m

I read. Please keep writing! šŸ™‚

2 12 2008
antikate

yes. this puts me in a thinky place, but the thoughts aren’t done enough around the edges to be usable just yet…

2 12 2008
tyra

i will await thinkiness. but not while holding my breath, because oxygen-deprivation doesn’t seem to help much at all.

2 12 2008
tyra

i will await thinkiness. but not while holding my breath, because oxygen-deprivation doesn’t seem to help much at all.

2 12 2008
antikate

yes. this puts me in a thinky place, but the thoughts aren’t done enough around the edges to be usable just yet…

2 12 2008
reedrover

Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer… by your continued writing presence.
Ok, in making sure I had the quote right, I found this excellent – as in Bill and Ted’s kind of excellent – annotation of the speech. http://www.quicksilverweb.net/be/bewinter.htm

2 12 2008
tyra

hee hee–lovely! and thank you! (i think the one about julius ceasar is even funnier… and why, yes, browsing shakespearian mockery sounds like a GREAT use of my disappearing minutes…)
now, back to it!

2 12 2008
tyra

hee hee–lovely! and thank you! (i think the one about julius ceasar is even funnier… and why, yes, browsing shakespearian mockery sounds like a GREAT use of my disappearing minutes…)
now, back to it!

2 12 2008
reedrover

Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer… by your continued writing presence.
Ok, in making sure I had the quote right, I found this excellent – as in Bill and Ted’s kind of excellent – annotation of the speech. http://www.quicksilverweb.net/be/bewinter.htm

2 12 2008
seerofkell

I enjoy your writing, although I am not sure that I understand everything. šŸ˜‰

2 12 2008
tyra

me either. šŸ™‚

2 12 2008
tyra

me either. šŸ™‚

2 12 2008
seerofkell

I enjoy your writing, although I am not sure that I understand everything. šŸ˜‰

2 12 2008
jessica_dwg

I read (and enjoy it). Keep on, please.

2 12 2008
jessica_dwg

I read (and enjoy it). Keep on, please.

2 12 2008
ovrclokd

i’m about the farthest thing from a writer that you can imagine, but… every serious author i’ve met (or blog-stalked, or read about) seems to think that the one deep truth of writing is that you have to do it. from neil gaiman to cary tennis to mark van name, the refrain is the same: every day. whether you feel like it or not. even if it feels like junk on the way out.
also, i really enjoy your rambly synaesthetic brain-and/or-heart-dumps. they’ve seemed fewer and farther between, recently, and i miss them. *hug*

2 12 2008
ovrclokd

i’m about the farthest thing from a writer that you can imagine, but… every serious author i’ve met (or blog-stalked, or read about) seems to think that the one deep truth of writing is that you have to do it. from neil gaiman to cary tennis to mark van name, the refrain is the same: every day. whether you feel like it or not. even if it feels like junk on the way out.
also, i really enjoy your rambly synaesthetic brain-and/or-heart-dumps. they’ve seemed fewer and farther between, recently, and i miss them. *hug*

2 12 2008
l_stboy

it’s work. it’s a pain in the ass. it’s never worth what you put into it. when you die there will be thousands of scraps of poorly molded sculpey and mommy-i-made-you ashtrays in some semblance of verse all over your desk and walls and in drawers and crumpled up in the trash can and always it will seem that everyone else does it better and they don’t even have to try it’s just not fair because they can’t even see how much you appreciate what they do while you’re fretting about what you wish you could do if you could only find the time and remember the words…
but you do it well. do it.

2 12 2008
l_stboy

it’s work. it’s a pain in the ass. it’s never worth what you put into it. when you die there will be thousands of scraps of poorly molded sculpey and mommy-i-made-you ashtrays in some semblance of verse all over your desk and walls and in drawers and crumpled up in the trash can and always it will seem that everyone else does it better and they don’t even have to try it’s just not fair because they can’t even see how much you appreciate what they do while you’re fretting about what you wish you could do if you could only find the time and remember the words…
but you do it well. do it.

2 12 2008
quixotic_goat

“i was always weaving words to create that something” … “gorgeous tapestry of weaving”
I want to see more of these tapestries, so get back to the word weaving. One of the things I have definitely learned this deployment is my writing limitations/deficiencies. I’ve had to write far too much, and too often I feel it’s not saying what I hear in my mind or I can speak to in person. So please, I like reading things people who actually can communicate articulately in the written word. Reminds me that there is a higher standard, and I shouldn’t be so lazy in my own efforts. Now if I was really motivated, I do more than read your journal, I would click on all those shiny links, but one thing at a time ;P

2 12 2008
quixotic_goat

“i was always weaving words to create that something” … “gorgeous tapestry of weaving”
I want to see more of these tapestries, so get back to the word weaving. One of the things I have definitely learned this deployment is my writing limitations/deficiencies. I’ve had to write far too much, and too often I feel it’s not saying what I hear in my mind or I can speak to in person. So please, I like reading things people who actually can communicate articulately in the written word. Reminds me that there is a higher standard, and I shouldn’t be so lazy in my own efforts. Now if I was really motivated, I do more than read your journal, I would click on all those shiny links, but one thing at a time ;P

2 12 2008
west_wind

Sweetie, I love your writing. Your writing inspires me to be more creative with my words, and that ultimately helps me look at the world in new ways. I want you to keep writing for my own selfish reasons, but even more than that, I want you to write for you. Your writing is lyrical, magical, and evocative and that’s what I think of when I think of you šŸ™‚

2 12 2008
west_wind

Sweetie, I love your writing. Your writing inspires me to be more creative with my words, and that ultimately helps me look at the world in new ways. I want you to keep writing for my own selfish reasons, but even more than that, I want you to write for you. Your writing is lyrical, magical, and evocative and that’s what I think of when I think of you šŸ™‚

2 12 2008
Anonymous

Here, and reading. Carry on. (though the magic of RSS and the good graces of Google…)
-brian d

2 12 2008
Anonymous

Here, and reading. Carry on. (though the magic of RSS and the good graces of Google…)
-brian d

2 12 2008
sometimerose

I’ve been thinking about this a lot myself as my own writing has become more and more, well, nonexistent. Someone said recently to me that a lot of the things we really want to do we never get to because they are important but not urgent. That is where writing has always fallen for me. It tends to be pushed down the to-do list by the important AND urgent tasks and even the UNimportant and urgent. But you’ve really covered why it is much more urgent a task than it seems…
And that’s enough one-handed typing for me (sleeping baby in the left arm – no mystery on why I don’t write more!)

2 12 2008
sometimerose

I’ve been thinking about this a lot myself as my own writing has become more and more, well, nonexistent. Someone said recently to me that a lot of the things we really want to do we never get to because they are important but not urgent. That is where writing has always fallen for me. It tends to be pushed down the to-do list by the important AND urgent tasks and even the UNimportant and urgent. But you’ve really covered why it is much more urgent a task than it seems…
And that’s enough one-handed typing for me (sleeping baby in the left arm – no mystery on why I don’t write more!)

2 12 2008
fishy1

Reader
Hi.
I would say something useful and poetic and encouraging (like your posts are sometimes for me), but i have to get away from the machine to go eat.

2 12 2008
fishy1

Reader
Hi.
I would say something useful and poetic and encouraging (like your posts are sometimes for me), but i have to get away from the machine to go eat.

2 12 2008
_aurelius

i read. always.

2 12 2008
_aurelius

i read. always.

3 12 2008
donnickcottage

I look, though it’s mostly inside baseball so commenting seems trite. I of course wonder if you ever look too.

3 12 2008
donnickcottage

I look, though it’s mostly inside baseball so commenting seems trite. I of course wonder if you ever look too.

3 12 2008
Anonymous

You should always keep writing. Not only because _you_ need to, but because _we_ need to read what you have to say, to share, to teach. And there will always be people reading.

3 12 2008
Anonymous

You should always keep writing. Not only because _you_ need to, but because _we_ need to read what you have to say, to share, to teach. And there will always be people reading.

3 12 2008
Anonymous

I always try to read, even though it might not appear that I still exist in this online world because I never actually write anything myself, but I assure you I do still read, mostly because I miss our conversations, however fleeting and weighed down they sometimes were, I miss them.
Longest sentence of the day, right there.
Love, Claire

3 12 2008
Anonymous

I always try to read, even though it might not appear that I still exist in this online world because I never actually write anything myself, but I assure you I do still read, mostly because I miss our conversations, however fleeting and weighed down they sometimes were, I miss them.
Longest sentence of the day, right there.
Love, Claire

3 12 2008
pooh_gal

bear brain food
I read. Writing has eluded me this many months, in any form. And just now I have a dying computer and need to run off to hear student presentations so I don’t have the time to savor the delicious words and thoughts and meaning this post has, but I will. it’s brain food for a bear of little brain, who will return soon.

3 12 2008
pooh_gal

bear brain food
I read. Writing has eluded me this many months, in any form. And just now I have a dying computer and need to run off to hear student presentations so I don’t have the time to savor the delicious words and thoughts and meaning this post has, but I will. it’s brain food for a bear of little brain, who will return soon.

4 12 2008
faerieariel

I could have written the same sentiments, my time management since I started consulting is HORRIBLE, and all it takes is 30 minutes a day to be a writer, right?

12 02 2009
tyra

i think if there’s a set measurement out there, it ought to be a measure of words, not minutes. there should be words every day, even if sometimes they take hours to coax forth and other days they won’t shut up and you have to scribble them on a napkin in the car while you’re on the phone and driving.

12 02 2009
tyra

i think if there’s a set measurement out there, it ought to be a measure of words, not minutes. there should be words every day, even if sometimes they take hours to coax forth and other days they won’t shut up and you have to scribble them on a napkin in the car while you’re on the phone and driving.

4 12 2008
faerieariel

I could have written the same sentiments, my time management since I started consulting is HORRIBLE, and all it takes is 30 minutes a day to be a writer, right?

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