It’s the last night of the month and I am curled up with a novel, nibbling cookies, my back a little twinge-y because I shoveled too vehemently this morning. Today was a Snow Day and I spent it most of it guiltlessly lounging about, my mind truly wandering in a bubbles-floating-through-the-backyard way. I am usually anxious about innumerable things; today the blinding snow and absurdly low temperatures replaced my apprehensions with a cold, blank slate. I will leave it unmarked for now, enjoy its simplicity.
Part of my contentment comes from a month of writing and posting these electronic pages. My goal was to make writing a habit again, not utterly dread it. I accomplished my humble mission. There’s still a long way to go. And I am sticking with the slow and steady approach, though I will modify it in February.
When I was teaching writing, one of the things I noticed again and again was that it took people a long time to get to the place where the story they were telling actually began. It was almost never on page one. “All this,” I would tell them as I ran my hand over their initial paragraphs, “is you clearing your throat.” I would draw a big purple star, smile, and point: “This, right here, this is the good stuff, where your real story starts.”
“So, everything else I wrote before this point was useless?”
“No. Nothing you write is useless. It matters to you, and you will use it somewhere, in some way.”
One of my goals is to talk to myself the way I talk to other writers. You know, nicely. So I’m giving myself a purple star as an act of hope, as a place marker between where I am and where I’m going.