Today like many summer days, I sit at my desk hoping to make some progress on my current manuscript. For any writer, not just a writer, but any of you who should be working on the creative endeavor calling your name; there are always, always interruptions.
Today the sun shines on the ravine below my windows as I sit at the desk groping for good words. As the light exposes buckthorn spreading its tentacles and conquering native vegetation, shouldn’t I be down there there trying to kill it?
In the drawer beneath my computer are about twenty receipts need to be recorded in my checkbook. They are creeping toward me.
What about lunch? Soon my husband and his sister will return from the care center where they are meeting with their mother’s medical team. Shouldn’t I be in the kitchen thawing bread and making sandwiches.
All these interruptions pale in comparison to the time I need to find, somehow, to complete a course on SEO for our website. If only I could be spared that torture!
As I fight off the temptation to leave, I turn to an unfinished portion of my manuscript and find I am paralyzed. I want to write about the swarm of cockroaches that invaded my kitchen in that old house where we used to live in the Rio Grande Valley. Should it be included now? Later? Never?
Then I recalled a quote from Annie Dillard and was inspired to stay at the desk a while longer, to keep on trying. Perhaps this will encourage you, too.
One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Don’t hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The very impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful; it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes. – The Abundance, by Annie Dillard.
So whatever reservations you have, whatever temptations to quit, whatever anxieties about being irrelevant or stupid or misplaced. Never mind. Kill them, every one.
No Place, another memoir, is second in the series that began with The Exact Place, the story of my childhood and coming to faith. No Place is the working title for this manuscript and covers the time when Denis and I met in college and runs through our years in New Mexico when it seemed as if we were wandering in the desert both spiritually and physically.