11.17.2008

11.10.2008

snowed.in

november. the changing of the seasons has got me thinking, or rather questioning "what am i doing?" and i mean, in the grandiose, epic, all-encompassing meaning of the word 'doing'; like, with my life.

don't get me wrong, overall i'm happy as a clam, snug as a bug in a rug. i can't complain when sundays are spent eating salt and vinegar chips and candy bars in someone's pretty-darn-perfect arms and watching a good movie, then heading to family dinners with love all around. my life of a university student/ part time coffee slinger is nothing to get upset about.

yet sometimes the snow seeps into my bones and suddenly i'm left standing on cold kitchen tile with textbooks i can't agree with, and tiny paychecks and won't buy me a porched, yellow house. and i'm saying to myself (outloud and alone, because i also get more crazy in these darkened months): "really? this is it?"

it comes and goes and i try to focus on the good stuff in between- loving leftover homemade pizza from mum, spontaneous brekkie plans, hugs from aforementioned arms...
and, well, i haven't reached a conclusion what to do with the questions in between, but here are some things getting me through them these days:

>>>>>
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
~some instructions on writing and life. a writer/teacher, she shares what she's found out so far. a lot of what she has to say rings true, and her advice on writing translates quite well to how i feel about making art and getting my act together. here's an exert from my favourite page today:


"but how?" my students ask. "how do you actually do it?"

"you sit down, i say. you try to sit down at approximately the same time
every day. this is how you train your unconscious to kick in for you creatively. so you sit down at, say, nine every morning, or ten every night. you put a piece of paper in your typewriter, or you turn on your computer and bring up the right file, and then you stare at it for an hour or so. you begin rocking, just a little at first, then like a huge autistic child. you look at the ceiling, and over at the clock, yawn, and stare at the paper again. then, with your fingers poised on the keyboard, you squint at an image that is forming in your mind- a scene, a locale, a character, whatever- and you try to quiet your mind so you can hear what that landscape or character has to say above the other voices in your mind. the other voices are banshees and drunken monkeys. they are the voices of anxiety, judgement, doom, guilt. also, severe hypochondria.

there may be a nurse ratched-like listing of things that must be done at this moment: foods that must come out of the freezers, appointments that must be cancelled or made, hairs that must be tweezed. but you must hold an imaginary gun to your head and make yourself stay at that desk. there is a vague pain at the base of your neck. it crosses your mind that you have meningitis. then the phone rings are you look up at the ceiling with fury, summon every ounce of noblesse oblige, and answer the call politely, with maybe just the merest hint of irritation. the caller asks if you're working, and you say yeah, because you are.

yet somehow in the face of all this, you clear a space for the writing voice, hacking away at all the others with machetes, and you begin to compose sentences. you begin to string words together like beads to tell a story. you are deperate to communicate, to edify or entertain, to preserve moments of grace or joy or transendence, to make real or imagined events come alive. but you cannot will this to happen. it is a matter or persistence and faith and hard work. so you might as well just go ahead and get started."