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  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    This year I’m
    doing something
    different than my
    usual tradition of
    pithy punch list of
    lessons learned to
    wrap this series of
    entries up.
    I’m writing
    this last entry
    exactly two weeks
    after we got home
    from the burn, b ...
    Readmore...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Monday morning I
    woke up early and
    decided that I
    wanted to do one
    more personal ritual
    before we had to
    break down and pack
    up our yurt and load
    the truck and leave.
    So I took my handpan
    and one of our
    little chairs and
    walked ou ...
    Readmore...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Sunday is always a
    tough day at the
    burn because we have
    to strike
    camp—it’s
    tough physically of
    course but
    it’s also
    tough emotionally
    because it feels
    like the setting and
    the vibe we worked
    so hard to put toge ...
    Readmore...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Saturday was my only
    day with nothing
    pre-planned and
    nothing I had
    committed to do. The
    burn was almost over
    and I was starting
    to feel nibbles of
    FOMO (Fear Of
    Missing Out) so I
    was determined to go
    see some more art
    (especially ...
    Readmore...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Because I had
    actually gotten
    enough sleep, I woke
    up reasonably early
    on Friday morning.
    Josh was still
    asleep, but I wanted
    to take advantage of
    the relative
    coolness of the
    morning and go do
    something. So I
    decided to take my h ...
    Readmore...

Parentheticals

A blog in which Our Heroine records, reflects and wrestles with meaning. With lots of asides.

I’ve heard it said that there are two types of writers: those who like writing, and those who like having written. I’m definitely one of those in the latter camp. I look forward to revisions, to having clumps of raw material to play with and tweak and reshape. The hard part, to me, is producing that raw material in the first place. The difficulty is not so much coming up with new ideas (which are usually plentiful and fun to play with), but that actual starting part, where all kinds of decisions must be made and then actual sentences produced and strung together into story. And it’s especially hard at the beginning of a new project, which is where I’m at right now. I’m actually in the midst of starting a lot of things now, it would be fair to say, but specifically I am talking about starting a new novel.

A new novel? Yep, here we go. I’ve committed to a particular project, and I’ve got a super rough outline and the first couple pages of actual words now. That’s a bigger deal than it seems, because not only do I prefer having written to the act of writing, but in general, starting is hard. Given that the previous novel (ok, the only one I’ve written, to date) took me approximately 7 years to complete (how biblical!), I’ve had to really screw my courage to the sticking point to get this one started. Because what if this new one takes me another 7 years, or at least some really damn long time, to finish? How am I gonna call myself a writer if I only produce a book every 7 years? That’s scary to contemplate. Now, to be fair, that first novel took so long for a number of reasons (not least of which was that I had a kid in the middle of writing it), and I fully expect the next one to go faster and be easier. That’s how it works, right? Practice, practice, practice, as I said last post. I learned a great deal by writing that first novel, and have a much better grasp now on what’s involved in the writing of novels (as opposed to the reading of novels, which I have definitely become an expert at if I do say so myself, or the marketing of novels, which I still don’t know nearly enough about.) I know I *can* write a novel now, and I know to expect “shitty first drafts” (as Anne Lamott would say) and not to get attached to the quality or quantity of initial output. I know how to create a writing practice for myself in order to get the work done (whether or not I actually stick to it, which is a whole other story). So I should be ready to go, right? I should be able to just start beavering away at this next project and in a year or so, it should be done.

Well, that’s the rosy vision. But why is it so hard to actually accomplish, especially the pushing out of that “shitty first draft?” Even though I’ve recently decided to commit more seriously to my writer identity, I’m still having motivation issues (which very well may be related to anxiety around said commitment), and not getting into any sort of BIC (Butt In Chair) production groove. I feel like I have an angel and a devil (or maybe a fairy and a dragon) on my shoulder, one saying “don’t be so hard on yourself: you can’t rush art, and you have to do what feels right to you in the moment,” and the other saying “you aren’t a writer if you don’t write, so stop fooling around and put your butt in the chair and make some words.” I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels like this when starting (let alone working away on or finishing) a new project. I know that it’s normal for motivation to come in waves, and for life to impinge. Maybe just putting out a public declaration of “I’ve started!” and “I’m gonna keep going!” will spur me to forge ahead even during those times when it’s hard to. After all, the goal is to wind up enjoying that feeling of “ahhhh, I’ve written, and it feels good.”


I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last few months in a process I’ve now come to call “Intentional Life Design.” (I’m pretty sure I didn’t make this phrase up, but it’s an apt one, so phrase, I claim you!).This is when I turn my focus on each part of my daily living: what I work on everyday (and when), how and when to encourage creative and relaxation and exercise time during the day, how our parenting or our household routines flow, how we organize our living space, how we nurture our marriage, how and when I interact with family and friends. The goal is to try to make sure that the ways each of these things occurs has been intentionally designed to be that way, rather than something we just put up with by default. I keep finding more and more areas in which Intentional Life Design applies, and trying to put my focus there.

Life in general is all about choice and intention right now--two things that sound easy (and desirable), but sometimes aren’t. I’m in the process of paring away all (or at least most) of the things in my life that aren’t necessary or desirable, so that I can reveal the true shape of what my ideal life will be (just like in the story of Michelangelo and the David sculpture--he said that in order to create it, he just chipped away all the parts of the marble block that weren’t David). I’m choosing to slow down, to take on less and do fewer things at once, but do each of them more consciously and intentionally. (This is a big step and a hard thing for a champion multi-tasker and gold medalist in the “Suck-it-up Olympics” to stick with!) I’m trying to be less driven by deadlines and by outside expectations, and more guided by my own inner rhythms and enthusiasms. Some days it feels great, like “woo-hoo, I’m on vacation!” kind of great, but some days it feels scary and anxiety-provoking, like “oh god what will people think of me if I do/don’t do that and how am I going to make a living, anyway?” Some days it feels like all I do is seesaw back and forth between both extremes, whacking hard into the ground on one side before breathlessly careening back up in the air towards the other, over and over.

I’ve had a post-it stuck to the dashboard of my car for a few months now that says:


Seeing Clearly

Posted by: julia

Tagged in: solipsistic , reflect , metaphorical , life

I’ve recently gotten new glasses. Not just new frames, but a whole new prescription. These days, I apparently need help seeing both far away and close up, so for the first time, I’ve switched to progressive lenses (which is a fancy kind of bifocals). The need for close up vision correction is something new (hello, 40s, what delightful new experiences you keep bringing me!), though I’ve been noticing that something is different for at least a year now.

So as I’ve been going through the new glasses process--going to the ophthalmologist, picking out frames, adjusting to wearing the progressive lenses--it has occurred to me (‘cause, you know, writer) that perhaps all this physical vision-related stuff is happening now for a reason, an “as above, so below” kind of reason. In other words, there’s a pretty damn obvious metaphor happening here that I want to call out. Let’s go metaphor diving, shall we?

In general, I’m at a stage in my life where things no longer look quite the same, where what previously seemed like clear assumptions and expectations have become fuzzier and harder to see. And I’ve finally gotten to the point where that fuzziness is no longer acceptable--I’m tired of adjusting, of compensating, of waiting for things to reveal themselves to me. I want to take more ownership of the process and see if I can make things clearer. I think that my recent resolve to finally go and get new glasses has been a physical manifestation of trying to own this process of soul-searching and identity work that I’ve been in the midst of. It’s not like now that I have new glasses I will suddenly “see the light” and know firmly and exactly what it is I’ve been put on this earth to do and be able to start doing it with great ease and satisfaction (and compensation)--but I am at least now taking another step and claiming responsibility for my own clarity.


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