Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Resisting a Timetable for Our Lives

Received an amusing (and important) email early this morning.

Subject line: Blog
Message in the email:  Um... Write one.

My dear writer friend, Micki, was gently reminding me that I’ve been lax in writing blog posts for some time. My first thought was to give you all the excuses WHY I’ve been lax (as I did in my last post about not writing). Instead, I’d like to tell you about a book I just read.

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock. Finished it in a day. One of the grittiest, most violent books I’ve ever read, but one of the most beautifully written. Pollock’s spare writing made me pay attention so that I didn’t miss one single word. The characters – the ones you hated and the ones you loved – were masterfully created with nuance and depth. I was literally mesmerized.

Pollock debuted as a novelist at age 57 after working 32 years at an Ohio paper will.

When I first learned that detail, I thought how incredible to realize a dream after so long…that he probably carried parts of that story in his soul for all those years. But maybe the story couldn’t be written earlier.

Maybe we all carry within ourselves aspirations that have to glimmer and fade and then resurface over and over until we’re ready to give them physical form.

I’d like to ask Pollock how he knew he was ready. But I’m guessing there wouldn’t be a clear-cut answer that would give others (me?) insight into the timing of their (my) own personal creative journeys.

If anything, Pollock’s story makes me feel less anxious about the process of writing and creating -- and especially about my previous notions of a publishing timetable. I trust that I’ll have the answer one day. And that day doesn’t have to be today or even tomorrow.


  1. Great post. For me there's always that tension between not wanting to force the book, the story, the essay, and *wanting* to force it because what if I'm just being lazy or scared?

    So for now I'm just writing a lot of blog posts in the hope that getting into the daily routine of writing will spur on the more creative stuff.

    1. Deonne, I tend to feel extremely guilty that I'm not forcing the process. I like that Julia Cameron said procrastination isn't laziness, it's fear. But how to tame that fear?

    2. I think Cameron is right, but fear of what? I mean, what's the worst case scenario? A terrible page of writing? I (we) should be able to live with that. Or maybe not. What do you think you're afraid of?

  2. I just returned from a three week friends and family tour that comprised 4 states, 1 wedding, and an ailing mother...I had intended to write everyday. That didn't happen. But I also realized that sometimes life needs to be lived before it can be written about. Like running, sometimes you need a rest day. The flip side is that you can't revise an empty page and although my crit partners seem to have an uncanny knack of knowing when I'm gaffing my work, it's nothing that can't be fixed. For me it's a habit, and I'm struggling to resume a near-daily date with my computer--just like I'm struggling to lace up my running shoes...