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Intermission: Reflections on the Writing Process

Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little.

Holley Gerth

Doing the Work            

 

Success is hardly ever convenient.

 

Almost every day I have a visitor.  The visitor often arrives in the early morning hours, long before I have awoken from sleep. I am usually lulled to consciousness by her presence, but I seldom greet her right away.  When I try to ignore her, she becomes insistent that I “GET UP,” and give her due respect.  I make excuses and tell her, “We can talk later,” or “I’ll tell you what you need to hear as soon as I get up.” At times, the visitor is relentless, so I am forced to stretch my heart, mind and soul to life because she never accepts only part of my attention.  She requires ALL or nothing.  Even after I have conceded to put aside how unreasonable it is for me to be up at such a dreadful hour, she demands that I get to work and reminds me that this process will take hours. 

 

Sometimes, despite of the visitor’s prodding, I am able to go back to sleep.  Just like the poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, described, my retreat into the “coolness of snug unawareness” is a small but sweet victory.  Even though I promise myself (and the visitor) that I will do the work at another time, I rarely do.  The visitor matches my stubborn will with silence.  If I am lucky, she only stays away for a day or a week, but during the absence, I’m listening, looking, hoping and thirsting for her voice so I can do the work. 

The visitor always returns because she knows that the work is the only reason I’m alive.  Each time she visits, she brings a key that gives me access to all the tools I need for every task.  Today, included with those tools is discipline.  Yesterday was patience.  The toolbox often includes love, vision and forgiveness.  And always words and words and words, so that I can do the work.

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