I've had an epiphany these last few weeks, writing these few blog posts and focussing much of my work time on our So You Think You Can Write contest and promotion: the more I write, the more I want to write. The more I think about writing, the more I want to write and enjoy it. Whoa, that's a big step for me. Admitting how much this means to me.
Despite this feel-good trajectory, I don't write as much as I want or feel I could. My "but" gets in the way. The "but" that always follows thoughts like "I want to work on this poem" or "I could spend the next half an hour with my character from this other story." They turn into "I want to work on this story BUT I should put the laundry away" or "I could spend the next half an hour with my character from this other story BUT the dog needs another walk." I'm sure other writers have "buts" too. Fill in the blanks: "I would like to write _________ BUT I should _________." The details are different, the pattern is the same. And for me the "but" compounds and builds the pile of shoulds into something so insurrmountable I give up.
Where does this come from?
I think my "but" works in tandem with my internal editor (yes, that villan) to thwart my efforts. If the "but" doesn't head me off at the pass, the editor will get me en route. Somewhere along the line we've been taught/conditioned that the kind of creative process involved here -- with its myriad phases and results -- is not deemed valuable unless it brings recognition or monetary reward. And, therefore, everything else comes first. I understand, we all want an audience for our work; we write to communicate, after all. But why don't we feel like the process is valuable and reward in itself? I think this conditioning has helped my "but" and my internal editor flourish, fed and watered them over the years until they became a thick tangle blocking the sun.
But the key to both of these menaces is that they are MINE. They exist inside of me (for whatever reason) and it is up to me to hack through the tangle. My machete is ready and it's time to kick some "but" (you saw that coming, right?) I've been inspired by the almost 350 people who managed to hack through their individual tangles and meet our contest deadline.
So tonight it's leftovers (15 minutes from fridge to table to dishwasher) and the dog only gets half an hour walkies. And I will spend some time with someone calling through the tangle, telling me a story; a mother who is worried about her young-adult daughter who is wandering through Africa.