Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Links and Ramblings

The Saturday Review of Books is up at Semicolon. Consider participating; if you reviewed a book on your blog this week, all you need to do is go to Semicolon and link it from there.

Speaking of book reviews, did you read my recent review here on The Hidden Alphabet? I’d decided in late December that one thing I’d like to do more of in 2011 is write reviews of the books I read. Then, once January started, I felt a little discouraged since the two main books I was reading—The Bible in 90 Days and Anna Karenina--are each about 1,000 pages long, meaning I wouldn’t get to write a review of anything for weeks or months.

Then I realized: Baby Anne and I read books, lots of them, every day! And some of them are really, really good! So I decided, since I can’t review any grown-up books just yet, I can review some of Anne’s. And that’s what I did last night.

Don’t tell, but I’m reading a few (really, just a few) pages of Ann Voskamp’s new book, One Thousand Gifts, each day. I couldn’t wait; I’ve looked forward to reading this one for months. So far, it’s been well worth the wait. Check out today’s (in)courage for warm words from Ann and a slide show that includes some silly 40-year-old girl who is jumping-up-and-down happy to get a new book!

This morning before work, I went to Riverblaze, a local bakery that serves coffee, for an hour or so of writing, as today would be my first day to write in my brand-new notebook. I sat for a long time—thinking a little, waiting a little, pen in hand. And then I started writing.

Here’s something I wrote toward the end of the two pages I filled:

I’ve been thinking about it, and there is one thing I would like to do, or not do, with this notebook:

I don’t want to waste my time on “morning pages.” Not that I don’t want to write in the mornings. I just no longer want to waste my time, or my mind, on the stream-of-consciousness, nonstop-for-three-pages morning pages touted in The Artist’s Way. Rarely have they helped. I want to write the way I did before I read The Artist’s Way: Intentionally. Deliberately. With long quiets. Time for thinking. Slow time for slow-to-come thought, and slow-to-think-out words and sentences and paragraphs.

Not that there won’t be time for manic writing frenzies or brain dumps or laundry lists and schedules, but ... no more habitual hurry. No more “I don’t know what to write I don’t know what to write I don’t know what to write.” No more “What else? What else?” No more thinking the pages are somehow incomplete if I don't fill "all three" of them.

I read The Artist’s Way for the first time in the early 1990s, when it was still hot off the presses. I’ve read it several times, and it’s served a positive role in jump-starting me out of the creative slumps I occasionally fall into.

I took the book’s concept of Morning Pages—writing three pages of stream-of-consciousness thoughts every single morning—seriously. And I’ve incorporated them into my life for the past almost-twenty years.

But I think I incorporated them too much because now, when I sit down to write in my notebook, I feel frenzied, like I need to start pumping out words of stream-of-consciousness nothing. That frenzied feeling has become natural. Also natural is the sense that, if I write fewer than three pages, I’ve somehow failed (not “capital-F” failed, but still). I finish with a sense of incompleteness.

Rarely do I ever just sit and just think and write anymore. I love journaling, but I don’t want it to be the only writing I do.

My time for writing is limited. When I sit down to write, I want to write real things. Not whatever things. And that’s what I’m going to start doing.

That’s what I did today.

The title of this weekly post is “Saturday Links and Ramblings.” Some weeks it will be link-heavy, and other weeks it will be ramble-heavy. Today was obviously ramble-heavy.

Happy weekend, everyone!

2 comments:

  1. Hi Nina,

    Thanks for dropping by. Enjoying reading your blog and will be following. Yep, Anna Karenina is a tough read, but well worth it. I'm trying morning pages and have pretty much come to the same realization as you. It's turning more into a journal, to do, clear the decks, type of thing. It's beneficial in that it keeps me from starting my day with the computer.

    Happy reading!

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  2. I saw that photo on Ann's blog yesterday. It made me smile.

    Blessings!
    Deborah

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