Last fall I hired a writing coach to help me finish my book Sunlight, my memoir of how I found myself. It was hard to hear that I needed to have it more focused – re-write the whole thing – there are too many themes. Yet I am not surprised. I knew something was not right.
I have stopped working on Sunlight because of this daunting idea of redoing it all. My dear husband hears me complain that it is not done yet does not see me taking any effort to complete it so he refers me to a book called “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. He has been suggesting this book for about a year now. Usually I sluff off the stuff he tells me to read. Why? Cause it is our relationship. He always tells me what I need and I always feel he has no idea. Well, this time he was right.
I borrowed the book from the library and it is very motivating. Quick short chapters. Pressfield’s language is one that kicks me in the butt – easy and to the point. It also is giving me a new story to tell myself when I don’t want to write and recognize when the “Resistance” is taking control. Strangely perhaps, I now talk to my muse. This is not something Pressfield says to do but it is helping me.
I began setting my alarm for 4 or 5 in the morning so I can get up and write. Now, I have done this before and the result was me turning off the alarm, telling myself I was crazy and going back to sleep. Then I would wake up at a later hour regretting it. Aching all day.
This goes on for months but now after some Pressfield inspiration I hear the alarm and then lay there asking, “Muse? Are you there?” It is a feeling of a presence, of not being alone. I don’t see a face or picture anyone in particular. it is more like a nebulous but I feel her more than see her.
When writers block kicks in I can simply write, “Why are you stuck, Muse?” This helps to keep the pen moving. This is something Pressfield says, he says that we are not to take our writing personally. It comes from a source outside of ourselves. I agree.
One thing I have realized in reading Rudolf Steiner’s work is the importance of feeling something with your entire body. You need to have a physical response to what you learn. So, when I read Pressfield talking about writing in this way my heart started beating faster and my reading sped up. I was excited. My body was physically responding but so was my mind. His words reached me. No writing tip will help you unless you feel it with all of your being.
This is off topic but last night I was helping my oldest with an essay. She is bored to tears with the topic. She has no interest in history because she can not identify with it in any way. Her essay is about “Who Is Lousi Riel?” As I read I shared with her interesting things that I discover. She found it very intriguing that she did an essay not too long ago on J. A. MacDonald and now sees how he is connected to Louis Riel. She smiled and you could see her body bounce a bit due to this realization. She may not remember much about J. A. MacDonald or Louis Riel but she will always remember they were in the same time period because she had a physical reaction. If you react physically it is an outward expression that something has entered into your body on a more spiritual level.
Now back to the topic at hand, me rewriting Sunlight. To my dismay when I write lately, in the last week, I am only able to write for 20 minutes at a time. When I wrote Sunlight I was writing for 90 minutes. This bums me out a bit because I want to finish this project and rewriting it in its entirety seems daunting. The muse does what she needs to do I guess. Balancing this idea with me working through the emotions and baggage of what a memoir brings this may be all the writing I can do which is better than none at all. Moving forward at a snails pace is better than not moving at all.
Pressfield tells a story in the above mentioned book about living in a house for a year to finish a writing project. He moved away from everyone he knew with the goal of writing, or die trying. Writing was all he did. No TV. No telephone. Just writing. The determination to do this inspires me.
I move forward.
Another week is upon me. What will my writing give me this week?