Monday, January 1, 2018

Ringing in the Grind...

Talk about a cold open, 2018. The intrepid canine and I ventured out into a sunny, -5-degree morning, he, the Great Pyrenees, infinitely more suited in his God-given coat. He stalked on out, invigorated, as I shivered along, thinking through clacking teeth, I need to write today.

And every day, really. New Year’s Resolution? Sure, why not? But soon the revelry and inspiration will wane, spiraling away like my frozen breath on this artic morning, and what then? For such is the nature of things: the excitement ebbs, the guests trickle home, even our Muse, especially any other than the one greeting us each day in the mirror. Life goes back to its daily grind, but, you know, that’s the thing, isn’t it?

Writing IS a grind, for most of us anyway. “It is by sitting down to write every morning,” noted Gerald Brenan,  “that one becomes a writer.” Sure, we’ll have moments of epiphany (too cold and too tired to conjure the adjective for that…epiphaneous? Epiphanific? Spellcheck has rebuked both). But even those moments of precious elucidation are fleeting, and we must return to the grindstone, for it is at once our whetstone, our covenant. Oh, the Muse might visit, but don’t give up your chair. She might toss you a bone, but she really only came back for her hat. Keep at it. “If I waited for perfection,” said Margaret Atwood, “I would never write a word.”
I write fiction, but one of my favorite scribes is nonfiction icon Erik Larson, who told me, among other things, that what separates an amateur from professional, is completion. Write the thing. And yes, there are indispensable ingredients, but as Doctorow reminded us, “Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.”
That it is. So be it resolved that today, we’ll write. And again, tomorrow. Even if only a little. And if you miss a day, start over the next. The grind will keep grinding, after all. “Writing,” said Gwendolyn Brooks, “is a delicious agony.”
Write on.



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