Monday, June 22, 2009
LEARNING TO SIT
(painting by Daniel Schwartz)
There are times, I spring from bed, excited to meet up with the page. Those mornings I want to shout to the rising sun, "Hello, world! Life is grand because I'm a writer."
But some days I have to dig for that place inside me where discipline lies, the discipline that I had to develop early on as a writer. Sometimes the simple act of picking up a pen gets me there quickly, but after being on the road or finishing a project, I have to search deep. Thank goodness for apprenticeships.
Recently I mentioned that I'd been writing for fifteen years. Please don't ask me what the first story was about. I don't remember. I quickly abandoned it once I started writing the story I was meant to write. What I do remember very clearly is learning to sit.
Sitting is so much a part of writing and we forget that. Maybe other writers began in a fever, sitting for hours while words dropped on the page. Not me. I had to build up the stamina. I had to learn to sit. Let me confess to you, I started with fifteen minutes. I had wanted to be a writer for so many years, but the mere act of sitting still and writing was overwhelming. My first session I listened from the screen porch for the beep of the stove timer to inform that it was okay to stop. The next day, I sat for thirty minutes. That's how it went for awhile--me sitting for daily sessions that increased by fifteen minutes each day, rewarding myself at the end by driving to the closest Pac-a-Sac and treating myself to a fountain Diet Coke.
Those early days of practicing my craft proved that a writer can reap benefits even by writing the wrong story. Because one day I discovered I was not listening for the timer's beep. Like a child who'd learned to ride a bike without training wheels, I stopped setting the timer. I had learned to sit.
Posted by Kimberly at 5:00 AM