My good intentions to blog stumbled over my daily life. My daily life this year, frankly, is often best symbolized by the word “tempest.” I just looked it up in the dictionary I got from “Mommie” and “Daddie,” Christmas 1971, and have used virtually every single day ever since. This source says “tempest” is a n. meaning (1) A violent windstorm, frequently accompanied by rain, snow, or hail; or (2) A furious agitation, commotion, or tumult; uproar.” As in, “The tempest in my mind / doth from my senses take all feeling.” [Wm. Shakespeare, King Lear] Ah, yes, TEMPEST. A year with a lot of rain, snow and hail, furious agitations and commotion – to the point I cannot write some days because I am afraid to see the year’s scorecard on the page. Or because I cannot clear enough clutter from my head and my heart to find my voice.
Amid the paralysis, however, I think I have found a couple of stepping stones this week. The first comes from Anne “Where Have You Been All of My Life” Lamott in Bird by Bird. I love Lamott’s father’s advice:
Do it everyday for a while,” my father kept saying. “Do it as you would do scales on the piano. Do it by prearrangement with yourself. Do it as a debt of honor. And make a commitment of finishing things.
The second stepping stone came from a writer friend’s FB page, quoting Ira Glass:
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
Basically, it is what I do whether anyone reads or listens or hears or understands. It is what I would do even if no one ever did.
So, I will continue to fight my way through the tempest.