Early on, Carolyn and I vowed we’d write every day. (Or maybe every weekday. Or maybe 3-4 days a week depending on what else we had going on.) In any case, it seemed important to approach this writing thing as work, and if it was work then it seemed obvious that we should be doing it a lot of the time. Everything we read about writing made it clear that real writers were able to focus on the act of creating as a first priority in their lives, and we did not see why we should be any less demanding of ourselves.
Making writing a new priority is an ongoing process. There are weeks when one of us might sit down to write only once, and other weeks where we manage to put in four or more writing sessions. These may last anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours, depending on many factors. Those factors include meetings and other work, household responsibilities, social activities, downtime, parenting, and the mundane obligations that fill a to-do list every morning (get car inspected, go to grocery store, buy paint for office, order gift for so-and-so). Neither of us is willing to be the lonely writer in a garret because we believe our very interaction with the world is what feeds our imaginations. That, and it’s just not practical.
As a result, though, neither of us is what one might call a prolific writer. I am not even a particularly industrious one. Still, we’re each steadily producing a couple thousand words each week, sometimes in a blitz of inspiration and sometimes by hacking away at the bones of an idea. What could I do if I really rearranged my life around this?, I’d berate myself each Wednesday as I’d prepare to discuss my meager offering with Carolyn. Solving this puzzle of creating space for creating had each of us frustrated for quite a while.
That’s when I recognized that I write between writing “sessions”, or in what I affectionately call The Gap. In fact, I write almost all of my waking moments. I write in the shower, I write while driving to and from errands, I write when I should be listening to my loved ones, I write in elevators. I am writing as I wake up each morning, writing out of my dreams. Carolyn has had this same experience and the same “aha” that much of what we always understood as thinking was really forming words around those thoughts, exploring how we might present them to someone else. Writing for both of us has become a conscious effort to attend more closely to those thoughts, to mind the gap. That is, to notice and value the filament of an idea, and to let it spin outward, finding its own course.
With us on the platform of creating are two companions, faith and memory. It takes a strong belief in one’s thought-forming ability to allow the words to charge and sputter, and an even stronger faith to be confident we will remember those wayward thoughts. When either of us feels the words slipping away, we sit down to put them on paper. In this act of commitment, they become real. They never seem quite as transporting as they were in our minds, but in writing them down, we learn where the words were going, and often the destination surprises us.
Leah and Carolyn