A bit of a shorter post today inspired by a lunchtime conversation with a friend. We found ourselves talking about the aspects of writing that bring us joy or happiness or whatever other word one wants to use—and those that don’t. The question we were circling around was this: How do we know when a project or story or goal should be shelved, unfinished for now, in favor of something new?
Our conversation reminded me of this description of how “writing creates you as you write it” by poet Reg Saner (from the March/April 2010 issue of The Writer’s Chronicle).
“[T]he interface between words and your sense of this world is a virtual place, and the locale where writing happens. Figuratively speaking, it’s an ecotone, the biologist’s name for a transitional boundary between diverse communities of life forms. It’s therefore also a zone where unexpectedly interesting things may happen….In essence, it’s a place where self-organizing, which is to say self-evolving, happens through interaction with the written word.”
In other words, we don’t just write about our experiences and transitions; our writing is part of and contributes to our experiences and transitions. Writing becomes part of our “self-organizing” and “self-evolving.” Writing is inextricably linked with our becoming. Saner suggests that we have different topics or places or issues of “interactive intensity.” For example, although he grew up in the Midwest, he rarely writes about his birthplace, because it doesn’t make him go “gaga.”
It seems fitting that after thinking about deep work and the difficulty that often comes with getting words into the world—and after reminding ourselves that writing is by its nature often not fun—we can also remember that it is okay to want and expect our writing to bring us joy and satisfaction. When it doesn’t, we can ask what needs to change.
If you are a writer or an artist or a creator of any kind, and what you are creating isn’t making you go gaga at least some of the time, if it’s not a place where interesting things are happening, maybe a different subject or place or idea is calling to you, one that you are drawn to because of who you are now or who you are becoming.
Questions for reflection:
- Does writing bring you joy at least some of the time?
- What about your writing makes you go gaga?
- In what aspects of your writing do “unexpectedly interesting things” happen?
- Is “interaction with the written word” a space that nurtures your own self-organization and growth?
Tomorrow’s Post: What is a DIY Summer Writing Retreat?
This post (a version of which was first written June 13, 2010, and later revised) is part of the DIY Summer Writing Retreat blog series, with daily posts Monday through Friday. Subscribe to receive full-length new posts in your inbox or catch them on my Facebook page.