Day 27, 500 words, 31 days.
“One of the things that happens when you give yourself permission to start writing is that you start thinking like a writer. You start seeing everything as material.” – Anne Lamott
This morning I had a cup of coffee at the nearby Starbucks with a new friend, a writer, though he is many other things as well. In short, he practices a far healthier diet than I do, and he also has a lot to say about grace.
We probably could have talked for many hours. I think it takes a writer to ask another what it is that he likes to write, or what it is she enjoys reading for the conversation to sound natural and not like a blind date. So we exchanged resources – people who we’ve read recently, people who we should give a try, writing we consider interesting, and so forth.
It was refreshing, to say the least, to chum it up with someone about books, over a decent Americano.
I asked him who else he had known who writes, and he mentioned one other fellow, another parent at my wife’s school, who’s written several books. Unsurprisingly, they, too, are friends. That’s two other people who fancy themselves writerly and have even managed to publish their own work.
The third who I know – me – well, he’s working on it.
The quote I included above, is another inconspicuous gem of a line from Bird by Bird. I don’t consider it her most quotable of quotes, but it belongs in the second paragraph of the first page whose corner I actually leafed. I promised myself I’d never do that again and rely instead on free bookmarks I collect at coffee shops, but this one deserved a leafing. A permanent crease on the corner, the kind made when the intention is to return to it, over and over.
The first word that popped out to me is “permission”.
I had never considered it that way before – as if the venture of writing deserved a formal granting of passage. I just always thought some people did it because they couldn’t see themselves doing anything else.
To be fair, that’s actually an incredibly romantic idea, though perhaps a bit, limiting. It flies in the face of believing “one can do all things”, and yet, it is the very foundation of the mantra many hold, in which they believe they are pursuing what they are “destined to do”.
If it’s possible to subscribe to both ways of thinking – I would. But regardless of reasons behind why writers write, I’m fast approaching that part where I start to ask how to begin.
Frankly, I haven’t even fully sorted the “why” part. I was telling my friend today, and then, another friend later (and perhaps too many friends, with whom I am now divulging my little dream), that I just love stories, and I have a natural way of putting together words. Now, before that sounds absolutely pompous, let me just say, I didn’t mean it as a declaration of inherent greatness. I only mean to say, I’ve always found comfort in expressing myself this way, the written way, and that, I just can’t explain.
So for me, maybe it’s a little bit about doing one of the few things I feel I can do, and it’s also a little bit about doing something that I love.
I read something recently on that as well – and the writer gave a fairly nuanced summation of why people ought, not, to bash the idea of pursuing what one loves. The way I gathered it, as long as the lover tempered her expectations for her muse, she ought to pursue her muse with purest fervor and most dedicated resilience.
The mystery of this whole endeavor is the quality about it that feels like the closest thing I’ve ever felt to “calling” – as if it was one of the few options that actually made sense, amidst the myriad of options that make so little of it.
It’s not like I “chose” to like writing. I suppose I just always have.
It’s not like running, which I’m hoping to like, choosing to do, and feeling vehemently opposed to, most the time.
There aren’t many other things I enjoy doing, purely for it’s own sake. This is the case, so far, before it ever becomes something more than an everyday hobby. I pray the moment, if I’m ever so fortunate, that this ever resembled the makings of a career – I do hope to God, I enjoy it just as much then. Despite the many, many torn up drafts, bad reviews, and clever critics ready to rip me apart.
Despite all the good and bad that has yet to come, I hope only to give myself permission – that free, undeserved pass – just to continue.