An interesting title, seeing as I haven’t posted here in a long while. It’s a melancholy thing, but the reason is simple: I’m not practicing.
Notice how I haven’t blamed any one of a host of issues. I won’t even bother to list them, because listing them invites them to be used as excuses and excuses are about as useful as a typewriter without paper.
I think most writers know that the practice of writing is something that has to be kept up daily. It’s a different mode of thinking, and without use the skills gets soft and becomes unfamiliar. It might even become uncomfortable where once it was a release.
Exercising is like that too. I used to run a lot and I fell away from the habit. I know what it feels like to run, to deplete yourself completely. My body misses that feeling I know, and I really ought to do something about it.
This is the way we stop doing things, you know. We begin with a few words like, “I really ought to do something…” But, we don’t. Instead, we find some other thing to do and we walk away from the important things in our lives. Those other things may or may not have the same value. They may have no value at all in fact but serve as ready placeholders. They are cushions against the necessary pain of growth and life.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on writing a few silly stories, but I believe that you can’t do something important if you don’t place some importance on the act. To me, writing is very important and I want my writing to be important regardless of the subject matter.
I’ve been traveling a lot lately, which means I don’t have a steady pattern to my days. I may be in one city today and another tomorrow. One bed tonight or sleeping on the floor the next. For my writer’s brain, this is something of a treat and a pain. The treat is all the amazing sights and sounds and smells. The dialogue and the faces. The experience of human existence in many places and at many levels. The pain is trying to make sense of it all, which of course is impossible without the benefit of time but it doesn’t stop my mind from working through what I’ve seen and heard and experienced.
The reason I mention this is that it’s common to think that the right course of action is an abrupt change in course. We believe that if we just say we’ve had enough and shift that things will be ok. In some circumstances, this is true. Some situations cannot be cured and must be abandoned before they cause further damage, but the really important things cannot be changed so quickly without damaging them.
I’ve done my fair share of damage during the course of my life. Mostly to myself, but not always. I don’t wish that I could take it all back. It makes me who I am. It makes me appreciate what I have and those people who I choose to let into my life. Giving it all back would rob me of the ability to cherish what is important. It might even strip away the possibility of recognizing what’s important.
I’m writing all of this down as an exercise. Writing ends when we stop practicing. It can only begin again when we realize the things worth having are the things worth working for each and every day.
Are you taking the practice of writing to heart? What about the practice of life?