I spent two days working on a post that kept getting interrupted and now is probably moot. Last night I feel I had a different topic for this morning, but of course I didn’t do anything necessary, like write it down, and this morning all I have is a niggling sense that I had something of interest to impart to you.
That is when writing gets hard, when I have a thought but lose it, with this lingering ghost hovering about, distracting me. It’s almost impossible to ignore, this notion that something needs to come out, and very difficult to get past. So maybe you’re getting a whole lot of nothin’ this morning. As if that would be any different from any other day.
I was watching some absolutely dreadful movie this morning, called Captain Caution, featuring some actress I’d never heard of (Louise Platt) alongside Victor Mature and Bruce Cabot, when it occurred to me I was wasting valuable brain cells. Now I’ll never know how it ends.
Instead, I headed for the guest room, where Marrakesh refuses to go since we’ve taken his luxurious queen bed away from him. In the bed’s vacated space now lie stack upon stack of unboxed books. And while this looks overrun, the garage where the endless boxes of books came from doesn’t look one whit different. There must be a law of physics that addresses that.
[Here I was going to get all excited about the new parallel universe discovery, but instead Jackson Ryan of CNet came along to burst my bubble: Let’s play a game of bad news, good news, bad news.
Bad news first: 2020. Literally all of it. Every second. Every waking moment of 2020. It’s grim, I know. Bushfires, pandemic,. When will it end?
But the good news: Apparently, scientists have discovered a parallel universe, just like our own. It’s a little different to ours though. In this mirror world, time runs backward. It’s like a Benjamin Button universe. That means they’re heading back to 2019, the good ol’ days, right?
Well, now more bad news: I’m here to spoil the parallel universe party. Scientists haven’t actually discovered a parallel universe, but you might think they have, based on multiple reports from across the web.]
I am attempting, slowly but so far surely, or not, to sort these books into two piles: keep and give away. But most of them are going into a third pile: maybe. It’s very hard for me to let go of books, even if they’re on the level of, say, Captain Caution, which started out as a book before Grover Jones (you know, the great Grover Jones) turned it into a screenplay.
One book I looked at this morning I barely hesitated on before placing it in the “go away” pile. I would continue to call it “give away,” but since Kara came back from Denver after helping her sister clean up and sort, and now has a Jeep full of books that Six Points wouldn’t take, we’re contemplating converting some of the storage space at Pat’s into a used bookstore. This will probably work like a zucchini store, where we end up with more inventory than we started with, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to hurt anything to try. And better to store them there than Kara’s Jeep, my garage and the memory of Marrakesh’s bed.
One of the books you will be able to buy will be The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. This would have gone instantly into the “go away” pile but for the fact that it was a very well-intentioned gift from a friend back in the many days where I wasn’t doing any writing at all.
I never got very far in this book, which is essentially a 12-step program for people seeking either to gain or re-gain their creativity. I did give it a try: the first instruction is to write “morning pages,” three pages of whatever crosses your mind. You don’t have to do anything with these. You don’t show them to anyone, you don’t have to find a future purpose for them, you just move your hand across three pages of paper. (Perhaps the book is now a bit dated.)
Ms. Cameron said this is for every creative, not just writers, that somehow the act of putting pen to paper proves inspirational to people whose creativity is released in other means: painting, say, or fabric arts, or perhaps even seeking a parallel universe where time flows backward. (Although don’t you suppose, if that’s the way time always goes in that universe, that they would view us as the backwards ones?)
I did try morning pages. I think I gave them a very fair shot, although at this late date I don’t remember exactly how fair we’re talking. For a number of mornings, though, I dutifully got up, sat against my bed on the floor and scrawled across three pages. I’m sure I probably have them in a preserved notebook somewhere, but forward or backward I did not ever review them.
Here is the one memory that sticks out from this experiment: Writing “I hate morning pages.” I may have written that several times. Probably not in succession, like they say teachers make students do but I’ve never seen it in real life: I will not talk in class. I will not talk in class, 500 times, as if this is something helpful. It’s not going to make a talker stop talking, but it might make him or her hate writing.
Which is all morning pages were doing for me. The intent, as stated by Ms. Cameron, was to be mind-clearing, a written meditation if you will, to clear out the pipes and allow the real ideas to be free-flowing.
But the real ideas never came, for me, just a daily growing dislike of the act of writing morning pages. And so I set my notebook aside somewhere, put The Artist’s Way on a shelf, and went about my writerless life.
But the book spoke to my friend who gifted it to me, and still I appreciate the sincere thought behind the gift. Usually I hang onto things like this, even if the object itself doesn’t claim my affection — I appreciate the sentiment behind it, and now have a house of clutter that reminds me, quite happily, of friends and family.
But when I picked this particular book up this morning, all I heard in my mind was “I hate morning pages,” and I set it rather quickly in the “go away” pile. Perhaps someone else will love it more than I ever did.
Simultaneously, however, it occurred to me: I am back to doing morning pages, only I’m violating that basic tenet that this is supposed to be for me and no one else, and I am fobbing my daily clearing o’ the pipes off on all of you. You are all part of my morning therapy routine and I don’t know about you, but I hadn’t realized this.
I’m not hating the morning pages this time around, perhaps because they aren’t defined and don’t come with instruction. (Although WordPress tries: they are forever sending me “helpful tips” on commoditizing my website.)
In fact, I generally quite enjoy them, except when the notion that I had something to say but can’t remember what gets in my way. Maybe this will clear the pipes and I’ll remember after all. I just hope I’m near some paper when that happens.