Friday, May 20, 2016

Another Nudge From The Universe ...

There was a time – a period that lasted for many years – when I was able to convince myself, again and again, that buying anything related to fitness counted as a commitment to wellness.

Books. (Nothing says "fitness" like sitting on one's ass, reading.) VHS tapes. (Tae Bo. As if.) DVDs. (Honestly, I do not have a suitable room in my home for all that reaching and jumping and kicking. Who does? Don't other people own furniture? Do they not have standard-height ceilings?) Equipment. (A Health Rider is fun ... for exactly seven seconds.)

I finally owned up to my folly. I finally stopped spending the cash. I did, at one point, join an honest-to-God gym and work with a trainer. I didn't like it but I showed up. And wouldn't you know it? Results followed.

Then all hell broke loose in the fall of 2008 and my trainer was the first expense I cut.

My point is, I got to a point where I believed that doing the work is the only thing that counts as doing the work.

And for the most part, that's true.

Which is why I own a rather extensive collection of books about writing – some purchased, some received as gifts – but I haven't read most of them. Reading about writing is like reading about fitness, right? The results come from the work.

True. But that doesn't mean I'll never have to shop for athletic shoes again. The ones I have are dead, dead, dead. I need to buy the shoes that will support me as I get back into the habit of walking some distance every day.

Likewise, the universe has perked up with my recent commitment to writing. It's been dozing in the corner, waiting. And waiting. And "For the love of God, would you please figure it out already?" waiting.

And I've finally come around. And it's perked up and offered helpful gifts. Nudges. At what have turned out to be rather regular intervals.

You need a writing partner! Here, reconnect with a long-lost colleague! Yes, you didn't know each other that well then, but you're perfect for each other! Really!

You need inspiration! Here, step into the orbits of writers you otherwise wouldn't have met! Look at what they've accomplished! You can do this too!

You need reassurance! Here, listen to these podcasts, even though you've never been inclined to listening to podcasts before! Here's one from a writer who's new to you! She knows things you need to know! Find that book they're mentioning! Neither of your libraries house it in their collections, but there exists in the world a marvel called inter-library loan! Request it! Read it!

And so I have. It is due back today. I've just finished it. Dani Shapiro's Still Writing.

I was charmed when I retrieved it from the library. It's wee. And that felt right. As if there shouldn't be that much to say about a writing life. The writing speaks for itself, right?

But oh, the power of this little tome.

It brought forth a stunned-silence, tears-streaming revelation. Which would be enough. But it's also provided many other moments of connection.

This morning, sitting on my love seat, I read a sentence and laughed out loud. "Uh oh!" And then added, "This book is a diagnosis."

And it is. For me. And a prescription. And a support group.

After many years of buying books and then never reading them, I made myself stop. I made myself check out books from the library and read them and then decide if they deserved a place on my shelves.

I look forward to owning Still Writing. And I look forward to suggesting it to folks who ask me what books I recommend about writing. Stephen King's On Writing is one. Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird is another.

And now Dani's.

And perhaps I'll dip into the other writing books I own. Perhaps there is more to be gleaned. Well, of course there is.

The difference is that these days, I'm writing, too. Reading such books isn't a substitute for writing. It's an enhancement.

It makes me slightly woozy, entering this realm with intention. I've been writing since I was 3. But I've only recently owned it as my work.

It's nice to be able to steady myself so I can keep walking. It's good to have mentors and guides.

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