One Season

A bit of the manuscript I’m writing, a bit of which I have been pondering all weekend.

My house is a fifteen minute walk from a wilderness that starts at 3,000 feet in the chaparral and leads all the way to the heavy pines of Big Bear Mountain. It would be more than a week’s hike to reach its pinnacle, but even a dabbling walk is wild enough to reset your soul. It is one of the things I love the best about this place. And I knew it was a piece of the cure. The thing about cures, though, is that the best ones are hard work. Fortunately, the dog was a steadfast believer in the possibilities of a morning walk and I believed it was my responsibility to not disappoint the dog.

Every season, every year is its own. Nothing in life resets, rolls back up for a repeat. Even the worst seasons offer moments you have no choice but to cherish because they flare, fast enough to sear a memory and not slow enough to keep. Whatever was waiting to be found in the chaparral was this year’s revelation, set in its time. So I started to walk it and to look, to think and to believe that there were answers in newly discovered wildflowers and the weather-shifted paint of a fresh sky. I hoped that the run back from the hills would sweat out the emotional aches and replace them with ones you could feel healing.

And for the first week I ached, but when a coyote paused to meet my eyes, I remembered what was worth seeing in the foothills. What happens around you when you aren’t looking is always bigger than you are.

For a few weeks the palm-sized cottontails, still young enough to wonder, greeted us on the dirt road, nearly close enough to touch. A tiny squirrel, discombobulated by the size of his new world, stumbled into the leashed bird dog before escaping and setting off an insatiable canine desire to put nose to chaparral.  The dog and I strained toward all in our path. Then the young animals began to shy and we found the first small carcass, proof of the inevitable shift. My troubles were so much smaller than so many hopeful beginnings and their endless luck or permanent failure.

…Keep walking,friends, even if you don’t know the way. xxRebecca

More Doing. Less Yearning.

The goal behind quitting my job and moving home being to write, here is the next regular installment on the Blue Sky Writing blog, a weekly meditation on process. I’m somewhat reluctant to do this because no one’s process is the same, no one has the same challenges. All the same, I love reading and hearing about how other people write. Sometimes you stumble on something that is encouraging or that makes you glad you don’t wrestle with another writer’s particular devil, although surely we have a similar devil prancing by the keyboard. We all think we’re uniquely challenged until we discover that we aren’t. Writing is living and living is the damnedest thing. Turns out it happens to everyone.

This morning I was thinking about, or perhaps the better phrase would be berating myself about the same thing I do most every morning. I need to be more focused and motivated. I had gone for a jog before the sun had scaled the hills, early enough to meet a cottontail rabbit on the road. I even made my bed and did my morning pages before most folks had set off for the office. Still, with the “you’ve got to be more focused.”

Twelve books in, a slew of essays and articles and I still argue with myself about how much more I could be getting done. Thing is, this is how I procrastinate. Seriously. Why get any work done when you could lament all the work that isn’t getting done instead?

“If I had just written 500 words a day for the last month, I’d be done with this novel.”

“If I just wrote this, this and that over the next week, I would have THIS much done. I better make a list!”

“No. Not just a list. I need a SCHEDULE! Better write it…”

I can spend hours planning, scolding… yearning. Thing is that the writing is in the doing. Devising new plans for the doing does you no good. I have tried everything, but nothing makes writing easier. And nothing gets it done except doing it, one word, one page, one manuscript at a time. I believe that if you can just face the page, if you can just start, you are already hurtles ahead of everyone who wants to be a writer.

And I still wish I was more focused…