free-writing: the day time lost all meaning
The plan for today, one day before D's birthday, was to pick up a kite curbside, buy D's birthday cake, clean our home, and put up the swirls and the Happy Birthday banner and a few other items of decoration.
What instead happened was this. We did the curbside pick-up of the kite, bought the cake, and somewhere in between the happening of those things, we decided that there was no need to wait until tomorrow to enjoy the fun things of life. So when we came back home, we gave D his birthday present, then after playing with it we cut the cake, sang Happy birthday, and pretty much had cake for lunch, had lunch at about 2ish in the afternoon, spent more time playing with his new toy, had dinner, and finally put up the decorations before heading for bathtime and bedtime.
It felt like today was D's birthday!
It was funny. Something similar happened last year, when we baked a cake at home the day before his birthday, and D wondered why we couldn't eat it right then, which is what we did.
If you've been following my posts for a while, you'll know I'm a big fan of Dr. Shefali and her work on conscious parenting. In one of her talks, Dr. Shefali once said that she doesn't care much for birthdays because every moment we are being born anew. Old cells are dying and new ones are coming into existence every moment.
And I see that little D feels the same. As far as he's concerned, now's a great time as any to open presents. Now's a great time as any to have cake.
In our attempt to make that one day super-special, we parents tend to skew our children's expectations when it comes to occasions such as birthdays and holidays, and therein begins the descent into disappointment. Because reality rarely meets expectations.
This is especially true for a little child who's been told to wait, wait patiently for that one day to open his presents, to have his cake, to forsake a moment of happiness in the present in pursuit of an ideal of some future happiness.
We are the ones who introduce the illusion of time in an existence that is, in reality, far removed from the concept of time.
Thank you for the lesson, little child.
Another surprising thing happened today. After days of feeling stuck, I got myself to my manuscript and got several words down. It only took me two 15-minute sprints, and I typed about 700 words or so. Hardly anything, I am tempted to say, but no – I will pat myself on the back for this.
Because (i) I managed to kill critical voice in one way. On both occasions, I only had 15 minutes of time, and instead of telling myself that there's no point in even attempting to write for such a short duration, I managed to make the most of it. I actually got the idea for this from a comment left on a post by DWS, in which the commenter mentioned that they had taken his Killing Critical Voice workshop and that it had helped them shed unhelpful habits/ways of thinking when it came to writing. One such bad practice is the refusal to get to the manuscript when we have only a few minutes on hand.
And (ii) I managed to get the words down by sprinting. I switched on the timer, and off I went, writing into the dark, and gosh! I'm amazed at how the current WIP has twisted into a completely unknown path altogether.
I also read a beautiful post shared by Harvey in his journal today. He points to Kristan Hoffman's post 'On Not Letting Ambition Take Over', which, in essence, says the same thing that Harvey and DWS and many, many successful creatives say – follow your passion, write the stories you want to write about, and have a blast in doing so.
The entire post is quote-worthy, and I think I'm about to paste almost half of it over here now.
When I was young, writing didn’t feel mysterious or difficult. I wasn’t curious about other writers’ processes, or searching for the “best” way to develop a story. Writing was just putting pen to paper and seeing what came out. It was a way to pass the time contentedly. It was a way to explore my own mind — what I was curious about, what I remembered, what I longed for.
As I grew older, writing started to feel more Important, both for better and for worse. Writing became a source of pride, because pretty much everyone said I was good at it. But it also became a goal, transforming into a sort of ideal, something farther away and less concrete. Like the difference between the air I had always breathed, and the blue sky way above me, out of reach. Supposedly they were both made of the same stuff, but they felt so distant and different from each other. Suddenly I had to look up and strive.
Put another way: the writing I was doing at the moment didn’t seem to matter as much as the writing I would do in the future, and what that writing could mean. Not mean to me, so much as mean for me. Or mean to other people. Would they like it? Would they think I was talented? Would they pay me for it? Could I build a career? Could I even — dare I say it, dare I dream it — become rich and/or famous?
Ambition can be a powerful motivation, but it can also be a vise, squeezing out passion and creativity. The key, as usual, is to find the right balance for yourself.
So my journey over the past several years has been one of going back in order to better go forward. More and more, I’m trying to return to the girl I once was, sitting in a quiet corner of my parents’ office, scribbling stories for myself. Using the page and my imagination to explore the world around me, as well as the world within.
Because there are the feelings we put in our writing, and then there are the feelings we have when we’re writing. When I was young, I took the latter for granted. I didn’t realize how valuable that inner state was to me, or to the creative process, until it had turned so feeble, so vulnerable. So tortured by all the ambitions I hadn’t managed to fulfill that I could barely appreciate the ones I had.
~ Kristan Hoffman, On Not Letting Ambition Take Over, at Writer Unboxed
I have come across this 'principle' so often that I now realise anytime I stray from it, it is entirely my doing. All the excuses I come up with are entirely fear-based and ego-driven, rooted in expectations of the world outside – will readers like what I've written, will people buy my books, will they leave me good reviews, will I become rich and famous, am I a good author, will the world recognise what an outstanding author I am.
Reality is far simpler. Creativity is inherently simple. It is simply a matter of putting one word after another. Everything else that we bring into the picture renders it difficult. The saying "Get out of your own way" has never made more sense.
Image Attribution: Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash