Today this gorgeous song came on my play list.
When it ended, I flipped to Joni Mitchell’s first recording of this song.
So many years difference in between. I loved the first recording. The haunting purity of her voice. That voice spoke to all the innocence and yearning inside me when I was a young adult. I was on the precipice of so much. That voice carried me and kept me balanced on the high wire, crossing into adulthood while hanging onto myself.
But this more recent version…Oh my, the seasoning in her voice. The depth of musicality. How she knows her voice now. How she lets it dance with all the other instruments. How sure she is of her own.
Sometimes I worry about getting older. Aging out. Becoming irrelevant. But when I listen to her older voice, I stop worrying. Maybe we can’t hit all the high notes the way we used to but, it doesn’t matter. The notes now are deeper. Life is so much richer on this side of the wire.
yesterday, I noticed this conversation in my head.
Me: This is a sweet scene.
Me: Yeah, I’m kinda getting to know my characters.
Me: If you knew them better, this scene would really be good.
Me: Hey this is a first draft.
Me: Yeah, well, if you knew them better, you’d be certain this scene would make it to the second draft.
Me: Omigod, shut up.
Me: You don’t even know where this scene is going in the book.
Me: Near the end.
Me: Maybe. If you’re lucky.
Me: Would you knock it off. This is a first draft. Even if this scene is not in the book, it’s helping me get to know the characters AND the story better.
Me: Well, I hope this scene makes it to the second draft. If if does then you won’t have wasted your time today.
Sensing my brain writing even while I am not.
Laughing with an acquaintance. Really laughing & feeling something shift between us.
Working out and noticing that my 3 lb. dumbbell tricep curls have become 12 lb. curls.
Noticing how peacefully my cat is sleeping at the end of my bed in the sunlight.
Watching a perfect movie.
Fixing my front door (so it locks) by myself.
Trying a new yoga practice and feeling eager for the next lesson.
Eating a combination of leftovers from the fridge and they taste delicious.
Seeing the sun glow behind the morning fog.
Getting a card from a dear friend and knowing they were thinking of me with each word.
Receiving twelve emails from women wanting to be in my class.
Being alive right now.
I am writing this post because I believe that if I want to re-pattern my neural pathways, if I want to access more joy in my writing then one of the ways I can do it is to notice more joy, more effortless joy every day, every hour, every minute.
So it went well yesterday. I read all the pages of the new middle grade and it’s not only pretty good, it’s also not far from being a complete first draft. I dug into the syllabus and powerpoint for my Austin Community College Writing Children’s Literature class and made notes about next steps. Oddly, the class feels like it needs more big picture thinking and heavy lifting than the manuscript but working on both feels symbiotic.
Now it’s Monday. The beginning of the work week. Get busy. Get going. Go.
Instead, I’m thinking about hiking. Driving to the trail head. Slipping the route map to the peak in my pocket. Heading out, step by step. In a way, there is no magic in hiking. It’s one step after the other. To the top. If it’s a good route, there are panoramas along the way, shady places to breathe (or pant), maybe even some cool water. These are the places to stop and revel in the journey and the progress. And then it’s back to the step by step going. Until the end.
Yeah, I’m thinking about hiking.
I’m driving to the trailhead. I know the route.
*This title is a nod to Arthur Levine’s fine picture book about a child waiting patiently for the weekend when he will be with his parents uninterrupted by the work day.
So I woke up this morning and thought about the things on my to do list, felt the audible “oh fuck” in my stomach and rolled back over. As I drifted off in the predawn light, I thought, “Be gentle with yourself.”
Well, that is some handy kind of permission to duck the work. Be gentle with yourself. It’s a new age dictum. (Or Nu-Age, if you use the commercial, store front spelling, which is funny because if you take out the hyphen in that misspelling, the word is nuage or cloud in french. New age, Nu-Age, Nuage…like the whole notion of New Age is a cloud puff of an idea. Or some cloudy thinking. You choose.)
But I digress.
Here’s what’s on the list:
Continue drafting the MG
Prep ACC class
And then some errand-y stuff, which I could happily put first. Errands are so good for feeling productive while not getting the main stuff done.
No, it’s those first two things causing me the ‘oh fuck’ nausea dread and ‘be gentle’ would not get the work done. Be gentle would lead to more oh fuck nausea. I know this cycle.
So what’s reasonable?
What would give me an ounce of joy?
What could I find a little enthusiasm and curiosity about?
Here it is:
1. Read through the middle grade; reconnect with it (December gets a little busy); find the next step.
2.Read through the ACC power point. Make a list of things you want to change, do, spiff up.
Way to break it down.
Way to lessen the dread
Way to turn the work into bite size pieces that I won’t choke on.
Way to make me a little bit curious.
A little bit hungry.
How nu-age of me.