6:48 p.m. I stayed up all last night trying to catch up on reading, and of course I ran out of night. I also got so tired I was getting desperate. A normal person would say that I should skip a day here and there, but I know myself, and I know what I would do if I skipped so much as a single day. One thing would lead to another, and my line in the sand would continue to recede, magically, like the horizon. And then this journal would just wink out.
I created this site to be a picture of what it looks like to write every single day. So, every day it will be, unless the big hand is on "flee" ... and there's a humongeous fill-in-the-blank bearing down on me.
I am not a disciplined person. I am a cyclical person. I am wise in the ways of the month, and the seasons. It's taken many years of keeping a private journal for me to figure out that I'm not inherently bad or lazy or disorganized. I'm just running in continual off-centered circles, like a Wankle engine. I may not do things according to the printed schedule, but I will eventually get things done.
A writer who was a client of ours once asked me to call him every day to just check in and keep him going on a project we were all worried about. Much as I wanted to see him finish on time and make us all look good, I had to confess to him that I don't do anything every single day. It's near to impossible for a woman, I think. Some days of the month I feel like organizing my string. Some days I throw the mail in a heap. Some days I will gnaw anything that can't crawl away. Some days I forget to eat.
So for the first time in my life, I'm trying to commit to doing something -- just this one thing -- every single day. In front of people. I swore I would write something every day if there's still an "I" and there's still a "day". It's the minimal form I can impose on this amorphous thing called a life. That being said, I want to talk about last night's little bitty snip of a piece.
As the night wore on and on, I started to write over and over again. But each time I came up with a sentence, I erased it. Even when the sentence bloomed into a paragraph, even though I was getting more and more desperate for a thought, or even a minimal word count, I kept writing and erasing, writing and erasing. The late hour had stripped me of all my defenses and I kept starting in on verboten topics.
For this journal experiment (or any writing project) to work, you have to figure out, before you begin, what you're going to say and not say. And why. And then you have to be prepared to continually adjust and alter and refine in your own mind what you will declare outright and in a clear loud voice, what you will intimate in a hushed whisper, where you will distract, and when you will keep your big mouth shut.
Last night, in a weakened state of mind, I obsessed on the growing pile of things off limits. Today, I will elude in order to elucidate. See -- already I've written and deleted a whole bunch of start-and-stops. There's a slogan: Never complain, never explain. I think it's for the Marines, or maybe the Navy Seals. It certainly is not the battle cry of the online journaller.
When it's your own life you're serving up hot and fresh each day, you'd like it to be delicious. You don't give out free samples if you're unsure of the quality, or your ability to make more. I mean, what if people like your donuts? What if they come back the next day and ask for more? You don't hang out the sign if you're don't have the time. And why am I continuing to fall into rhyme?
You see, last week I got really really sick and I also got worried: what if this is it? You know: IT? Is this the end of me? I mean, one day I was high on a ladder with my hair full of paint, fussing about whether or not to scrape more, putty less; two coats or three? Looking out the windows at a new view that I'd never seen before, and then suddenly I am low, low down on the ground.
Only a deep breath keeps us from disintegrating.
Literally. It's amazing watching the life force breathing all around you and knowing that one day the careful array of books will stand rigid and the dust on the shelf will still be here, but you will be ... actually, not to put too fine a face on it: you will be the dust on the shelf.
The very top of the ladder has a big warning on a red sticker that you keep reading over and over again as you climb up, until the words are obscured with scrapes and aging paint splatters. "Caution: This is not a step." I've often ignored the warning and grabbed hold of whatever I could find to steady myself and then climbed to the very top of the wobbly thing to reach for something I wanted.
The act of stealing a bit of the air and using it for a few seconds is a profound one. We sigh and release some of our being. We gulp more and more air. It takes immense courage to wake up and know there's only so many steps, so many things to grab, so many sighs.
Is it worth it? I haven't fallen, so far. But ever since last week, I'm more and more aware that I can.
Or worse, that I will.
But then, they wouldn't be doughnuts if they didn't have holes.
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