Just as a runner isn't wise to skip stretching hamstrings that were stretched yesterday, writers need to warm up every morning, waking up the connections between our eyes, hands, and words.
I like the ease that comes of setting my own schedule, within or outside the typical workforce hours. I also appreciate the quiet satisfaction that comes of my own, heads-down efforts, whether or not they yield immediate results. But while writing is a solitary endeavor, I'm really a kumbaya girl at heart. So I like knowing that the view from my office window isn't all that different from that of other writers.
This theme is portrayed beautifully in Jeannine Atkins' VIEWS FROM A WINDOW SEAT: Thoughts on Writing And Life. I'll review the entire book later, likely after the busy holiday season is behind us. Meantime, I'd like to share a couple of passages from the chapter called Keeping a Journal.
"I start most mornings at the same kitchen window or on the porch," Jeannine says, "where I often ease into work by recording what I see.
Me, too! I stand at my kitchen window before my own writing sessions, steaming mug of vanilla-hazelnut coffee in hand. As my eyes flit from one garden patch to another, my mind drifts from one idea to the next. Goldfinches gather at the feeder, late-blooming camellias tilt their faces toward the sun. I am at once comforted and stimulated by their presence. Where do I want to take my writing today, I ask myself, and what (who) will I take with me? A click of the shutter, a quick scrawl in my journal…I record, with all senses, the answers available to me in that moment.
[While] no one may read what we write, Jeannine continues, a journal brimming with woes and their analysis can be useful if it clears the mind to let us return to something with more grit or polish. Putting complaints or concerns on the page sweeps them from my mind, so I'm better able to focus on the work at hand.
I get that, I really do! In fact, this is the journal page I created yesterday, as warm-up for my time at the computer. It comes of standing at my kitchen window for a long while, gathering ideas and letting go. (Soften your gaze, please, 'cause while I've got major love for art supplies, Technique and I are total strangers.)
I planted a sunflower, bright and cheerful, and surrounded her with nurturing thoughts. The image itself is a very loose interpretation of something I saw on Pinterest a while back. I drew it freehand and then added text, off the top of my head. Oopsies are part of the process, I kept reminding myself–put down that eraser and keep going! Growth: that's what came to mind as I painted, stamped, scribbled, and glitter-glued the images and text. Funny, isn't it, how certain themes sometimes burst through the topsoil, as if they'd been planted there on purpose?
This journal page is pinned to a certain point in time, so please don't view it as a representative sample. It's sunny again today, and warm. But the Santa Ana winds might kick up overnight, wreaking havoc in their wake.
One thing I know for sure: journaling helps me find clarity in the moment, and calm. Gifts for any writer, maybe more so for memoirists like me. More importantly (and in Jeannine's words again), journaling helps us "commune with ourselves, in a given moment, as honestly as we can."