Sarah's comment just now - which, as she wrote, must have fallen into the ether originally - prompted me to write here today, a rapid update.
I want to get into Slow Writing. Is that a thing? I see Louise DeSalvo wrote a book on it. DeSalvo wrote one of my favorite writing books: Writing as a Way of Healing. That book, along with work by James W. Pennebaker, formed the springboard for a "Writing for Health" workshop my father and I gave together many years ago.
I keep thinking about Slow Writing, because most of my writing these days is frantic. It's that writing without breathing type. The scrawled, choppy, crossed out sentences in a journal that is wet from being thrown into the swimsuit bag and chewed on by the cat and full of directions, shopping lists, nervously jotted down To Do lists. Lists from several months ago with items that have big exclamation points next to them, underlined twice, items that still aren't done.
This morning, working on an assignment due in three hours, I caught the ridiculous franticness of how I was writing. I stopped myself. I tried to slow down. But when my kids are home, as they are now, expecting a fun summer day, as they are now, and there's a change of plans and I suddenly have something due, I can't help but write in this way. Any minute, there's an interruption. I had three straight minutes to myself writing sprawled out on the bed and the cat chose that time to lie down on the papers and tackle my pen.
But facing obstacle after obstacle--(not crazy dramatic ones like Olympic athletes, but tiny, quotidian ones like kid interruptions, overdue bills, frisky cats, nosy neighbors)--that is like the main running theme of the book-Writer's Boot Camp--that I'm trying to get off to the printer. A book (a book inside a kit, really) that will be out in stores this fall. The whole point is basically how to slog through. Which we all know is the point. But because I've been slogging through writing for most of my adult life and because I've patched together something of a writing life kind of, and because I've read hundreds of books on writing advice, I do feel I have a little bit of an idea about what kinds of things help with continuing the slog. Yet, like the shrink who desperately needs therapy or nutritionist who gulps down giant Slurpees for breakfast, here I am tripped up by the most obvious and predictable obstacles.
I came to the blog, for a quick post, because it often centers me. If forces me to ask--where am I today? It makes me think about the reunion I just came from, and how that connects to the ones I wrote about in 2010, 2012, and 2014. I am thinking about how the fierce Jacobson sisters who raised their kids together in Brooklyn would be maybe disappointed to think about how scattered those cousins are now. Disappointed to know that those cousins, who grew up like siblings, whose relationships are foundational to their entire life view, didn't prioritize the next generation really getting to know each other. So while we've grown up seeing them at Bat Mitzvahs and weddings and funerals, we didn't really have the relationship playing together our parents somehow imagined we did. How only my sister--who wasn't raised there--holds down the fort in Brooklyn now. Like Amie in her recent post on The Shape of Me, these are things I am thinking about, questions I'm raising, not ones I am answering.
A blog should have more of a daily rhythm. That cadence inheres to the form. Letting long stretches go between posts is disruptive to the flow of it.
Sometimes I find it hard to think about writing here because I am too much in the middle of things. But in the middle of things is exactly the place from where we have to write. Yes distance, escape, a tiny cabin by the sea, a quiet room in a lake house, a deck overlooking the vast Pacific ocean, a Journal of a Solitude gives us much-needed perspective, gives us time and space for reflection. For Slow Writing. For meaningful interpretation. But that isn't the reality of most of our days. Most days, we have to write right smack dab in the middle of things. I will try to stay closer to that reality. To keep writing in media res.
(If you can, listen to "May It Be" by Enya today.)