I’ve been meaning to start on my novel for over two years. (Yes, everyone has a novel or screenplay or Taj Mahal in the works, I know. But this is my Very Ambitious Project so I get to write about it here. On my Considerably Less Ambitious Blog.) I have a very pretty good sense of the plot, main characters, etc, and I think about it all the time. It’s sort of what I do in the time most people reserve for daydreaming: I write this novel in my head.
I’ve never actually written anything down though, save for a few scene sketches now and again. The problem is — wait for it — I never feel like I have enough time. (Cue chorus of tiny mournful violins.) Something as officially serious as writing a book seems like it deserves a little cabin on a lake, Underwood waiting on a rough pine desk, whiskey at the ready, walking stick leaning by the door. Or at least an uninterrupted chunk of time: no nagging children, looming appointments, laundry backloads, or oppressive should-do lists hanging over the consciousness. Am I right?
Let’s get back to that in a minute.
The other night we had dinner with a friend, one who is a practitioner of various New Age psycho-spiritual medicine, what I tend to think of as deeply woo-woo and somewhat dubious. But she is also possessed of some very intense wisdom, and can see straight to the heart of matters, and… well let’s just say she uses her powers for good, and I love her for it.
She mentioned all the messages she’s been getting from the universe, about what she is meant to do and where she is meant to go. Strange, synchronous events, things I would just consider funny coincidence, she interprets as fate, a sort of breadcrumb trail left by the universe for us to find our way.
Anyway, she was asking how I’ve been lately, and I mentioned feeling stuck. Stuck with not finding much writing work. “Well, what do you want to be writing,” she asked, “if it could be anything, money aside?” The answer, of course, was my novel. Her next question, obviously, was why aren’t you writing it? And I think my stock reply about time actually made her eyes cross.
And that was the point where she gently, but expertly, hacked my excuses to bits. Actually, what she did was hand me the axe, so I could do it myself. What was I afraid of, she wanted to know, and when I said, it’s more than I’m afraid it won’t be good: I’m terrified I actually don’t have anything meaningful to say, and that I’ll only find it out when I sit down and try to say it.
Aha! You will stop procrastinating when you ask the universe for help. Try asking your astral self for a safe landing. You have something to say. You will say it well. Just trust. And just do it.
See what I mean? Deeply woo-woo. But I thought about what she said, and thought about my novel, and thought about my astral self and the universe and old Nike campaigns.
That night, we came home and when I checked on the kids, I noticed Shriekeuse had fallen asleep with her hands clasped across her chest. In an attitude of prayer. Because she had recently become obsessed with God and prayer, I realized that’s exactly what she had been doing, praying. And because I was starting to feel a bit out of my depth with all the God talk (and Monsieur Shriek was plain old freaked), I decided to take her to church. Which was, conveniently, coincidentally, the following morning.
And what do you suppose the sermon was about?
How waiting is both an opportunity and a curse. A curse because we allow ourselves to stop, and let whatever it is we’re waiting for come to us. And an opportunity because we can take a breath and act, or notice, or feel, or pray, or listen for that hint from the universe.
Since then I can’t seem to take a step without tripping over a coincidence. At the very moment I pick up the phone to call a friend, an email from her arrives in my inbox. I hear that another old friend got the same diagnosis I did, at the same time. The mysterious song I woke up with in my head is playing when I turn on the radio. I call a neighbor to come over with her kids at the moment they arrive at our gate.
So, I decided to listen to my friend. My friend the ambassador of the universe, the cosmic fax machine. I stopped waiting. I burned down the cabin in my mind, hurled the typewriter into the lake and snapped the walking stick in two across my knee (but I kept the whiskey).
This morning, I set the timer for one hour and I wrote. I wrote a page, and believe me it is a hideous page, but I wrote it. I sat in my chair and I didn’t fool around on twitter or look up obscure synonyms in the dictionary, or jot down a grocery list. I wrote a page, the first page, of my novel.
Read Full Post »