First Things First

This is where I am today, likely for a large part of the day. The origina text of this entry was handwritten (all right, “by zombies,” if you must. This is my blog, and I can use whatever tense or voice I see fit when I am writing it.) in vintage number two pencils that were once my father’s, on scrap notebook paper rescued from a rolling file cart that was once Housemate’s and now is mine.  The reason why is that my brain works better this way.

Staring at blank screens, no matter how often I have done so over the years, is not my idea of fun. Give me a sheet of writing paper, however, and some means to make marks upon it, and my brain breaks into something not entirely unlike a Bollywood dance routine. Right now, I am on my fifth notebook for morning pages, thirteen spreads away from needing a new one. That will be number six. I don’t remember the exact date I started this practice, without getting up to look, but I do know that I am glad I did. I get myself to my office as close to first thing in the morning as I can manage, plop my bottom in the chair, open the notebook, and I write. The subject does not matter, and I am the only one to see those pages, period.

Today, I finally sketched light pencil lines on the line-less page, and, right away, I felt as though I had sunk into a warm bath. Relief. Rightness. Home. I wrote about a morning, yesterday, when everything had gone wrong, from a missing wallet (eventually found) to not one but two friends losing beloved pets. About getting caught in the rain on my way home from my usual Tuesday breakfast meeting with N. About the long PM conversation I had that afternoon, with an author I admire for many reasons, and the feeling of connection and a seed of a new idea that conversation started.

One of the things we talked about was reading, so I had that on my mind when I wrote these morning pages. That gave me the idea for another sort of morning pages; reading pages in the morning, in addition to writing them. When I was little, I tried to convince my mother that there was such a thing as wake up stories, and she needed to read me those as much as she needed to read me our nightly bedtime stories. They were married, I think my reasoning was, or siblings (hopefully not both at the same time, ahem) but my efforts to persuade her to read to me in the mornings as well as at night were only sometimes successful. Now that I am the mommy (as in adult female head of household; I do not have children) why not add wake up stories to the routine when possible? Today, I did. I finished writing my morning pages, made a second cup of tea, turned on my Kindle and read. Warm bath feeling, all over again. This was right. This was food.

After that, I wanted to write, but I didn’t want to turn on a screen and touch keys. The internet could wait, and so it did. I took out some scratch paper, and a bullet point list of the day’s tasks flowed out like water. My brain salivated at the thought of putting physical pen to paper, and, so, that’s  my day.

Pen and paper, here in my hobbit hole in the morning, tappity tappity on the pink laptop out in the great wide world (aka coffee house down the block) later. I like this, going with my natural inclinations rather than against them. I don’t remember where I read the suggestion to write out blog entries in longhand (perhaps to photograph and publish that way?) but I always wanted to try it. Again, why not? The blog police are not going to come and get me over this. That’s when the scrap paper and pencils fused in my brain, and I couldn’t wait to get started. We will see how this goes, but the proof for at least today is already here – I wrote this. A piece of writing exists now, that did not exist before, and I did not have to smash my head against a brick wall to make it happen. I like that. I like liking that. I may be on to something here.

Time to wrap this puppy, as I have stories to write, so I will end it with this: keep going. Do what works, stop doing what doesn’t. Stick duct tape over the Hypercritical Gremlins, because they are not allowed to talk to you like that. Make a thing where there was no thing before. More often than not, the more you do, the more you will want to do. My mom was right on that last one, but I’m still right on the wake up stories. (Sorry, Mom.)





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