Monday, July 23, 2012

Writing Life



Though it hasn't been obvious here on the blog lately, I am first and foremost a writer.  In fact, I have been writing more over the last year than ever before in my life.  Regular readers of The Magpie's Fancy might be puzzled by this statement, as there has been little evidence of any real writing activity here during that same period.  The cupboards have been bare.  Not a can of beans or a box of saltines for you to nibble on as you wait for me to get my act together and bake some cookies or whip up a proper pudding.

I promise that will happen soon.  Once we are in the new house at the end of August, you won't be able to get rid of me!

In the meantime, one half of my brain is thinking gardens and French doors and room colors and bead board, even as the other half writes and writes and writes.  What I am writing is still top secret for now, but I can tell you that its presence has taken up so much of my existence that there has been little room for much else, including blogging.  That is a good thing, though, for as a beloved professor once told me, "Write every day, even when you don't feel like it, even when you have no time, even when it gets in the way of the rest of your life."  She was right, and I do.

Even as I type this, I recognize how slightly crazy and selfish it sounds, but I don't care.  A writer writes.  A writer also reads--maybe even more than she writes.  And this writer takes very long walks.  Walking helps me write.  So does washing the dishes by hand.  So does daydreaming--not worrying or obsessing, but real daydreaming of the sort that allows for surprises and possibilities.

I hope some of my writing students--both past and present--see this post, because I often give them this advice about the writing life, and I want them to know that I don't take it lightly.  The writing life is uncompromising, demanding, and difficult.  It also brings moments of great joy among the soap suds and reveries.  For me it comes down to this: discipline leads to discovery.  It is that simple, and I wouldn't want any other life.



25 comments:

  1. I like this insight into a writer's life. Describing what helps you and how you stay focused is quite inspirational - for painting in my case. Thanks. Have a lovely day, bisous xo

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    1. I love that inspiration is inspiration--no matter the art form. xo

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  2. You go girl! Can't wait until the final review of the top secret writing project!

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  3. Oh Gigi,
    I LOVE your new home-to-be. You will get some great inspiration for your writing, looking out of that lovely square bay window onto that pretty garden. When you move in, can you show us some photos of the inside please ? I wish you both many happy times there. Much love. XXXX

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    1. Thank you, my friend! I will definitely share lots of photos, including before and after shots! xo

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  4. Isn't it funny that even before reading your post, I had the same thing on my mind this morning? We were camping last week with my dad with a lot of other families, and mid-week I was feeling overwhelmed and needed an hour of solitude. So, I rented a kayak, paddled out to the middle of the lake, ate my lunch, read, and wrote. It is then I realized that I am truly meant to live a writer's life :) That is exactly what I blogged about this morning––about not feeling guilty for needing the time to myself. It was comforting to read your post after, and see you're feeling the same way. I completely understand...it is not selfish! Enjoy your writing and daydreaming about your new house :)

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    1. Ah, you are so wise, Megan! That is just the thing I need to do sometimes in the midst of a busy week. Nothing can replace that alone time for a writer. How cool that we were both writing and thinking about this this week!

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  5. I have a son that think very much as you have written. So true, but as his mother he needs to also make an income. Wondering how that can happen? Maybe he needs an independently, wealthy woman that can support him - just smiling! Can't wait to hear more about what you are writing and also look forward to tales from your new home.

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    1. Of course there's definitely the practical, money-making side of it, too, Marilyn! I have to work for money--and always have. For many years that has meant that I get to help other writers develop their craft, so I'm lucky that my work fits so well with my vocation. The first piece of advice I give every writing student is this: Don't quit your day job. When I talk about writing all the time, I'm definitely talking about all the time when a writer is not busy making money. It can be hard to do both, but that's part of the reality of being a writer, unless we get lucky and meet millionaires! :)

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  6. I think it's fabulous that you have written more this past year than ever before...you seem to be emerging into the next phase of your life.
    xxx

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    1. Oh, I am, DJ! That's just it. Thanks, my friend. xo

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  7. I have always been impressed with anyone who is able to have the discipline needed to be a writer...kudos to you for being able to accomplish it! What an exciting time this is for you:)

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    1. Thank you, Gail! It hasn't ever felt ilk discipline for me as much as this thing I just had to do. I love doing it, and I can't imagine a life without it. In this way, the discipline just comes. I always feel like a Nike commercial when I talk to students: "Just do it." :)

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  8. You are living your beautiful life, Gigi ~ it doesn't get any better. Oh, but maybe it will when you are moved into the new lovely cottage! Keep enjoying it all.

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    1. Yes, the cottage will be the cherry on top! xo

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  9. I don't find it demanding or difficult. But consuming. The only downside for me is that whenever I close my eyes I'm in a coal mine. I really should find different material.

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    1. Okay, now I want to know more about this coal mine!

      Thanks so much for your comment. I know what you mean about the writing being consuming. I experience this, too. I don't think of the writing itself being particularly demanding, because I love it, but I do find other aspects of the writing life demanding, because they take time away from writing. For most of my adult life I wrote and published my poetry with academic and small presses, which meant I made no money at the writing itself, so I had to work very hard at other jobs (such as teaching writing) in order to support my vocation. Now that I'm working on full-length works of fiction, I see a very different side of the writing life. Poets write with absolutely no expectation of remuneration, while fiction writers can dream of a little money now and then. :) I suppose that shouldn't matter to me, but after twenty years, it does a little. :)

      I do find writing difficult. While I'm better at it than I was twenty years ago, it is always challenging for me. I like that about it, though. I also emphasize the challenges of writing because I have had many students in the past who wanted to be writers, but who didn't necessarily want to do the work of writing (or reading) on a daily basis. It's exciting when I meet students who want to dig in and work.

      Clearly, I need to write a second post! I have too much to say on the subject!

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  10. oh, i'm excited for you. it does take over, doesn't it. words take up much of the space in my head. i am writing always, but rarely on the page. while i spend my days making quilts, the words trip over themselves in my head. maybe someday they'll be fermented just to the point of actually getting them down. and now i'm eager for your secret project to reveal itself.....

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    1. I love that you mentioned how the words come when you're quilting. I think any creative pursuit can help to bring out other creative impulses in us, which is such a gift. Now if there were just a few more hours in a day . . . . :)

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  11. discipline leads to discovery.....that is one of the most
    freeing things I've come across
    in a very long time.
    glad and grateful hug
    for slipping a pretty little noose
    from around my neck!
    -Jennifer

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    1. I'm so glad, Jennifer. I understand about those pretty little nooses. I have had to deal with one or two of my own from time to time! x Gigi

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  12. Hello Gigi. I am so glad I found you through Vicki's French Essence blog. I am writing a motivational book and found your comments above so helpful, especially the inspiration from your Professor. I shall print those words out and place them above my little writing desk. I have such trouble actually getting to the SITTING DOWN place to write - not unusual I am told - but once I sit and start typing, I have no trouble entering my magical writing world. At present I have a deadline. I am working towards a competition to have a 50,000 word manuscript completed in a little over a month. So I will regularly visit your site for inspiration! Thank you. Mary-Jill

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  13. I'm so glad you found me, too, Mary-Jill, and especially through Vicki's wonderful blog! Glad I could offer some inspiration. Good luck with meeting your deadline!

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  14. Gigi, I can tell you, you are an inspiration to me. This last six months has seen Life take over my writing, and oh, how I wish I had your commitment and discipline, I truly do.

    However, I have to dispute your suggestion that your skills are not evident in the MF lately, for every sentence you offer us is perfect. Like I said, you are an inspiration!

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