projects and writings of Tracy Burkholder
I have tried to be a daily writer. I have tried to be a sporadic, do-it-when-I-feel-like-it writer. I have paid lots of money to study the art/craft of writing and I’ve given up writing altogether, vowing to never spend a dime or an hour on it again. Has any of this worked? What does working even look like?
These days, I know my writing life is on course when there is more ease than angst to it. If the mental effort expended to get myself in a position to write is more work than the writing itself, I know things are out of whack. And if I’m making proclamations that I don’t need writing in my life while secretly envying my writer tribe then I know I’ll eventually call bullshit on myself.
This week, summer me and massage therapist me and relationship me all fell into a warm, sunny lull. Suddenly, space opened up and I found myself mid-day, looking around the house and asking, huh…what should I do now? And then, without any muscular push, I simply decided to find a whole bunch of essay prompts and start working on them. I gave myself the goal of writing for one hour a day, each day on a new topic.
At home, I put on my favorite ring (the one that’s good for spinning in circles and running my thumb over) and sit on the floor with my laptop. If it’s at night, there’s a glass of bourbon nearby. I turn on my phone’s timer as well as my playlist of white noise music and go. There’s just enough ritual to it to make it feel like habit.
I haven’t gone back and read any of the essays, but I know some of them are 99% crap and I am 100% okay with that. Giving myself only an hour to work on them means nothing comes out polished and sparkling. Moving on to a new topic each time means that I can’t fall into the fuss and grumble of revision. Revision is a space I fall into so easily, but it’s also a space that’s full of barbs that push me out and away from writing too easily as well. This hour is not about perfection, it’s about practice. If, in the end, some useful lines or images or ideas come out of it, then all the better, but it’s more about the joy of words or the puzzle of memory or the acrobatics of thought.
I know this won’t become a daily thing. No doubt, other demands will interfere. But even if it’s a sporadic practice, it’s one that I can access with ease rather than angst.
Thank you warm, sunny lull.