Friday, January 13, 2012

Trusting your writer self

I have a couple of shelves on books on writing. Some are well-worn, others untouched although they looked interesting when I was in the bookstore or they were recommended by another writer. This morning while I was journaling, I noticed the spine of Courage to Trust on my shelf, a self-help book a friend had mentioned recently and one that I've skimmed. Then I saw John Lee's Writing from the Body, one of the untouched books, and opened it to a section called "Afraid to Trust." Okay, too many coincidences, so I read the section.

It starts with this quote from Wendell Berry: "One puts down the first trust that life and language are abundant enough to complete it."

I've been struggling with the early-morning novel writing the last few days, eking out 100-150 words in my allotted hour instead of the 300-400 I'd been averaging. That in itself is okay. I don't have a quota to fill each day. But I feel deeply unsure all of a sudden about where the story is going. I'm not unsure about all that I've already written. It's a solid idea, and some good writing, but I'm stuck with where to go next and I've grown suddenly timid. I'm not afraid of wasting time. Any writing experience is a good one and part of the lifelong apprenticeship I've committed to. And I don't think I'm afraid of making a mistake--that's easy enough to correct.

I think rather that I've lost trust in my relationship with Frankie, my character, and in my relationship with my muse, whoever and however that shows up. That all the communication we had built up over the writing retreat has dissipated in the face of just a few minutes to write each day and then onto paid work and commitments and my other life. And there's no help for that now, not for the next month or so anyway.

So I'm committed to taking a deep breath and recognizing that I'm overcommitted and relaxing around that and solving it as a very solvable problem. And I can shift into trusting my writer self to wait and be there when the time opens up.

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