Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Writing Dreams and Routines

Over a year ago a good friend and I joined Ali Edward's class entitled 31 Things.  The concept was simple yet profound.  Ali offered a list of 31 items (one for each day of the month) that we were to photograph and then write a journal entry.  Talk about a class that is right up my ally!!  I have had a three year dream of marrying my photography endeavors with my writing to create a photographic essay, so to speak. Well, that enthusiasm lasted the sum total of one day and then life happened and the list was filed away.

But July 1st marks the beginning of the second half of the year and I thought it would be a great time to resurrect this project.  Now, I believe that rules are to be followed and a classroom syllabus is more than a guideline, but in an effort to lighten up a bit and have some fun, I have decided to view the list as a starting point rather than a mandate set in stone.  The prompt for "writing" does not appear until day 23... and there are some prompts that I may not use at all.  But that's ok.  I am slowly returning to the joy of taking pictures, and I am moving forward on my photo essay dream.

I will not necessarily post all the entries on this blog, but I thought today's was relevant and fitting.

I have maintained a fairly consistent morning writing routine for the past few months.  I complete my morning pages (the wonderful idea of 'brain dumping' first thing upon waking up as Julia Cameron describes in her book, The Artist's Way) and then review two daily devotionals and journal my thoughts and prayers.

All of this activity takes place on line.  I have fully embraced the computer format of writing (I can type much faster than I can hand-write and therefore my fingers can keep up with my brain)... and I even use YouVersion to supply my devotional readings and Bible Gateway to provide my scripture references.  I discovered the online journaling site, Penzu, which I absolutely adore.  For a mere $19/year I have access to unlimited journals that I can customize (to a certain extent) with my own creative design.  In addition, these journals can be password protected, if desired, and all entries can be tagged for easy reference at a later time.  This morning routine works well, and I have no desire to attempt to fix what is not broken.

However... I have long harbored the dream of regularly writing at an outdoor cafe:  sipping on a hot espresso, pondering the next line to write in my moleskine notebook, joining the tradition of other great writers such as Hemingway and Fitzgerald.  And of course, if the cafe were in Paris... along the Seine... with the Eiffel Tower looming in the distance... that would be magnifique! Quite the romantic notion indeed!

But I have this odd hangup of not wanting to sit in a restaurant (or cafe) by myself.  I feel so self-conscious and wonder what others might think of the odd eccentric sitting in the corner writing by herself.  And I also have this hang-up with perfectionism:  wanting every pen stroke to be of genius quality rather than brainstorming dribble.  And so I have allowed these negative thoughts to prevent me from pursuing this simple pleasure in a writer's life.

However.... last summer my son was kind enough... and innovative enough... to transform a homely spare bedroom into a Parisian paradise.  The walls are textured to resemble European stucco; the table and chairs are reminiscent of an authentic bistro; and the small details of red geraniums and lamppost lighting captures the true essence of a literary cafe.  I have my writing dreams within my grasp, and yet I have ignored them.... until now.

While I love the speed and seamless perfection of a word processor (the delete key is my best friend), I think that handwriting with old-fashioned paper and pen causes us to be more methodical... so that our fingers cause our thoughts to slow down and capture small sensory details rather than merely fleeting ideas.   And handwriting is as much an act of artistic expression as it is a means to record thoughts.  Handwriting is as unique and personal as our fingerprints --- readily identifiable by those who love us. When I was a scrapbooking consultant I would ask students:  wouldn't you rather have a recipe handwritten by your grandmother rather than one that is typed?  And the answer was always a resounding yes.. handwriting captures personality, individuality and emotional make-up; a keyboard only captures words.

And so I plan to revisit the Paris room on a regular basis.  I plan to sit at the bistro table with a cup of coffee... or glass of tea... of goblet of wine... and stare out the geranium framed window and slow down my thoughts.  I plan to daydream for the first time in years... and write nonsense or whimsy in one of my many journals with different colored pens and have fun doing what I love to do.


  1. I did 31 Things a year ago, because you pointed it out to me in your blog. Thanks!

    I had a hard time keeping most entries short--I think most still turned out to be in the neighborhood of 400 words. That's not a lot, but in a scrapbook, beneath a 4x6 photograph, it looks like too much reading. Maybe it's because I'm used to scrapbooks being more about the pictures than the journaling.

    But it turned out to be very meaningful and personal to me; I was totally inspired by it, making it definitely worth doing.

    I plan to do it again this year in about a month but, like you, several of the concepts now feel unimportant. I'm going to find more personally meaningful words to write about.

    I will LOVE to read how you're approaching each of the 31 ideas.

    Have fun with it!
    Love your writing room.

  2. I like how your son converted your room for you! And nodding to how you avoided going in, not ready yet for what the experience would hold for you. I hope you have taken some steps in there now, and immersed yourself in the idea of Paris, and being freer with your writing, more you, through your handwriting. Writing in a notebook at a cafe, in your house - fabulous idea, Molly. I've just realized I need a writing area of my own in the house, and am now brainstorming where/how/what. Paris for you, London for me? maybe... :-)