On Why Writing Is So Damn Hard

Let me be clear, I breathe the written word. It is my life force, my prana, my life purpose, my escape, my clarity. It is also my most complicated, vicious, taxing, and painful relationship. Nothing comes even close to the challenge a devotion to writing inflicts upon me at every turn.

Writing is so damn hard.

While that may come off as me prepping for a whiny diatribe on the travails of the writer’s life, it actually constitutes me launching into a bit of a love poem (I SUCK at poetry and do not pretend to have any training in it whatsoever. So, indulge me):

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Oh word that I write

Bringing to life so many wishes.

Oh word that I write

How you keep me from doing the dishes.

Every day I sit and stare and think of a million other things to do.

Then, with a whisper, a pull, and a shove, you force me to feel something that draws me back to you.

No laundry is done. Take-out pizza for dinner again tonight.

I made my kid walk home by herself

because you and I are having a fight.

Characters haunt my dreams

Settings drive me to call my travel agent friend.

Yet we all know the balance of my bank account

means that little fantasy has to end.

Oh word that I write

does it count to make a writing playlist on Spotify instead of banging out Chapter 3?

Oh word that I write

It’s been eight hours staring at you. I have to pee.

Why do you tease me like this?

Why do you always get your way?

Oh word that I write

How I need you

To make sense of my life every day.

 

A Novel-Inspired Witchy Garden

I tend to, much like an actor, take on the interests and oddities of the characters I write about while I’m in the midst of crafting them.

When I started writing Geist, magickal herbalism entered and I dug deep into the study of witchy herbs. Learning about the fantastical properties of hellebore, heather, lilies, foxglove, and more proved fascinating and I became pretty much obsessed with the need to grow a poison garden as well as an edible garden this year.

Since we live in one-thousand square feet in Vancouver, that garden required some major containers. My upstairs neighbour graciously offered two of her unused wooden raised beds and I got to work.

The evolution of that space (and my previously almost non-existent gardening skills) proves more magickal every day.

I’ve come to know hellebore as the most magnificent of species:

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I’ve fallen in love with herb bouquets:

Found little gifts from the fae left after Beltane:

Already taken in my first mint harvest:

Met some new friends:

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And fallen in love with my back deck again:

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Day 31 – Productivity& The Collapse of Time

Productive days are the best kind. The total absorption into material and storytelling becomes meditative.  The devotion to ideas and evolution of that story sparks a magic. When it was all over, I couldn’t even remember which Writer’s Studio day it was.

In the midst of it all, my brother and I even managed to fit in an Insta chat on living magical lives.

Both seekers, we’ve dabbled—or even more than dabbled—in a wide range of ideas, practices, and philosophical perspectives. He just relocated to the remote island of Wrangell, Alaska, and the world is on fire for him right now. The conversation took on its own personality, moving through fishing, friends, lost civilizations, myth, the spirit of the land, and our own sense of self.

I realized that days in which articles are read, poetry is shared, a friend leaves you a sweet voice message, your brother answers the call when you have something bizarro to share with him, are true source magic.

From that, the construct of time drops away and all that lives in that space is a direct channel to the imagination.

Words hold the greatest of power.

Here’s a quick wrap-up from my crazy-productive day:

 

Day 30 – The Value of Keeping Scenes Simple

Day 28 and 29 got lost somewhere in the morass of trying to set the final scene of The Woman On The Wall.  Forty-eight hours of drop-off in writing output had one evil source—me, trying to overcomplicate things.

The terrible, beautiful part was all I had to do was look at tools I teach other people to realize that simplifying the pre-writing/writing process brings all kinds of clarity.

Take a peek:

Day 25 – The Teacher

As a writer, I have found nothing more aggressively instructive in the best of ways than teaching creative writing to others.

Unless you’re wealthy by other means, a writer’s life requires a day job or a side hustle to make the pieces fit together. Not to get all cheesy, but teaching writing is really the best case scenario for a professional writer in terms of that ebb and flow. For the last several years, I’ve taught people of all ages how to find their own voices, write stronger stories, and edit their own work.

It keeps me sharp, well-read in all genres, creative, and always thinking about stories, more stories, then at least another one.

Part of staying laser-focused on my writing career is to not get distracted. Teaching keeps me in the zone. Plus, I literally could spend all day every day talking about writing. So . . .