Monday, September 25, 2017

On a Good Writing Day...

I open my file and descend into my story, fiddling at first, and then moving in deeper-- sliding falling plunging-- into the scene, the characters transforming from paper dolls to three-dimensional puppets to human,

these characters I thought I had created, but now they surprise me by striding out of the scene and into a space I didn't envision, saying words I didn't imagine.

Time ticks by, but I don't feel it.

When I climb out, hours later, in a daze, squinting in the sunlight to walk the dog, the voices in my head keep chattering. Words wind out from beyond the trees. I rush home to write them down.

At the end of the day I am tired, like after a good workout, but without the sweaty clothes and sore muscles. I paste a silver star in my planner because I do that now, reward myself for good writing days.

The month of August I have one star. September I have four.

I wish I loved my book. No--
I wish I loved writing my book.

I wish I had no doubts about the futility of the endeavor, no guilt about being a writer in this dark world.

Because isn't it a frivolous thing--  some days-- most days-- to know that real live human beings are suffering and afraid, while I sit doing nothing to help them?

Instead of writing I should take to the streets. Cry out against injustice. Speak out. Stand up. Kneel down.

But how much easier it is, and lovelier, to escape (how I have always escaped) by burrowing into a story while the adults downstairs scream at each other.

And why do we tell stories anyway?
Why do make art or music? Why do we dance?

Why do we bother.

Sure, it makes us feel happy. Makes us feel sad. Makes us feel something, anything. Makes us pause, think question reconsider listen remember care. Hope. Reminds us that we are here, each one of us, alone. Together.

I open my file and descend into my story



Today, I will have a good writing day.


  1. Here's to stars. I REALLY like that idea, Jody!

    1. It's such a weird thing, Kathy, how that silly little star seems to spur me on. Ah well, here's to whatever works!

  2. Sometimes we need stars just for opening the file and trying! I hope today was an amazing one for you creatively.

  3. In the past few years I have become more convinced than ever that stories matter. They are not just escape--although escape is valuable, too. But policies and real events are driven by the stories we tell. We understand the world through stories: who is winning, who is losing, what's fair, what's right, what counts, who matters.

    1. You're right. We don't often think about it that way, but it's story that stays with us and helps us make sense of the world. Have you read Lisa Cron's Wirerd for Story? Not very helpful from a writer POV (at least for me) but she really makes a strong case for how telling stories is an essential aspect of what makes us human.