This week I’m happy to share with you a prose-poem I wrote on the things that get in the way of writing — enjoy!
There’s a warm cup of tea on my desk and I finally can feel my fingers for the first time in hours as the warmth of liquid comfort creeps through my veins and slips hurriedly out into my extremities. My fingers sit on my keys and I wait.
I wait for the muse or my soul or whatever it is you want to call the first stirrings of inspiration. The flutter of here and now and this and why don’t you start here, with this beginning — with this warm cup of tea and my fingers, their skin overly dried and roughening but still a little soft from the water of dish-washing and counter-scrubbing, still noticing the ache between my shoulders after what feels like a cathedral of floor-sweeping.
The silence creeps in and I don’t know what to say. Inspiration refuses to budge and I can feel lists upon lists, quivering in the back of my mind. Reminding me that I forgot the stretch of counter with the toaster, that I haven’t touched the crumbs that have collected on the kitchen table, that the dust bunnies beneath my dresser just keep growing. There’s a thousand and one things that I still need to get to.
I keep my fingers on the keys. It’s a kind of rule these days. Fingers on keys is safe.
When I was little and just learning how to type they used to call these the home keys — asdf jkl; — the place your fingers rest in the moments between typing. The place from which all typing begins.
These days I find myself more familiar with the home keys than I have ever been as I sit, fingers on keyboard, and wage a war with myself over my own right to write.
The thing about stories is they speak to us. As readers and as writers, stories bloom in our mind and they teach us something about the kind of people we are — about the kind of people we wish to become.
When I was little I didn’t dream of writing. Or maybe by the time I did it was already too late. I think that by the time I dreamed of writing I’d already learned that writing isn’t a “real” job and that I shouldn’t bother to try. I’m doing my best to unlearn that thought now, facing it down every day as I sit — fingers poised on keys that are ever so slowly starting to feel like home.
I think that’s all it is really, in the end. Coming home to ourselves over and over and over. Showing up. We’ve all become so busy that it’s nearly impossible anymore to find the time: time to breathe, time to sit, time to rest, time to sleep.
It’s even more impossible to find the time to write.
Because writing is like fighting demons and the moment you sit down the thing that comes up is resistance and — even though the desire to write has been niggling all day as you bought the groceries and did the laundry and cooked and then cleaned up from cooking — as soon as you hit the chair and find your fingers waiting on their favorite keys the only thing you can think about is the laundry that still needs folding, and whether you should check on the crock pot, and haven’t you been meaning to vaccum for weeks?
The trick is not to do it. The trick is to keep your fingers there, in the home position that’s starting to feel less like a home and more like a prison the longer you wait — as the clamour of all these other things (useful things…) you could be doing just keeps getting louder. And louder.
And the thing I think it’s important to know is that you have to just keep sitting.
Every moment is a choice. And in this moment I choose to come home to my writing.
Now I’d love to hear from you! What gets in the way of the important things you’ve been meaning to do?
If making time for the stuff that matters is something you struggle with. Here are a few resources you might want to check out on why it helps to do the important things before the urgent ones (hint: your email is urgent, but not important!).
And if you liked this piece, please share!