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Friday, November 4, 2005

Chapter Fifty-Six, in which a Writer's Life is examined

Today, dear two readers, you will be treated to another insight into the life of our good writer friend Tiresias.

It has been said that writing is a solitary pursuit. Yet deep inside every writer is the need to communicate something to another, and most writers need some measure of feedback to maintain the focus and drive necessary to complete a good piece of writing, whether a concise essay about Exactitude or an epic novel about recapturing lost time.

In Judy Reeves' book A Writer's Book of Days, she offers a prescription for maintaining this drive:
By integrating regular writing-practice sessions into your life, notebooks will get filled, stories will be written, or poems or whatever surprising forms your writing takes. Your writing will improve and so will the quality of your life. That irresistible urge that brought you to the page in the first place will be fulfilled. The longing stilled. Even if you continue to need a day job to support yourself--and most of us will--your spirit will be glad.

Tiresias has his own version of this bit of wisdom, in the form of a motto: Inspiration is the reward of daily practice. He does not sit back and wait for fickle Inspiration to hit him over the head and drag him to his desk to write. He goes to his desk and writes every day, another necessary act of devotion, and soon enough Inspiration is lured to his side, begging to be his. Good, bad, or otherwise, he says the important thing is to get words on paper once a day, every day.

For those mere mortals who write, there lurk demons more disruptive than Inspiration and her indifference. Reeves notes that "many who want to be writers--who are in their hearts, writers--have followed the same beaten path that doesn't come to a dead end so much as it peters out." Often this fade-out is the result of dark thoughts that lurk in the solitary mind, that say "You're wasting your time" or "That isn't any good" or "What makes you think anyone is ever going to want to read some silly elf story?"

Recently Tiresias confessed to us that even he has suffered from a lack of regular constructive feedback. When one is so pressed for time that one can barely carve out twenty minutes to devote to one's own writing, how can one find time to read, critique, and help with the work of another writer? Tiresias believes the efforts he puts into helping another writer help himself as well, because he learns from it, and often he can objectively spot some defect in another's writing that he will subjectively overlook in his own. Daily practice is much easier done when someone else is expecting it from you.

The subtitle of Reeves' book is "A Spirited Companion and Lively Muse for the Writing Life." I believe Tiresias when he says every writer can benefit from such a thing, whether person or book or amulet. He told us that someone has recently appeared to him, an angel from the great Bookstore in the sky, who shares his passion for writing, who yearns for inspiration, who wants to give as much as receive. His excitement is evident in his broad smile, the lightness in his step, the eagerness with which he says, "I can't wait to see what she has written today!" His mind romps. He is more than ready to reclaim the title of writer that has languished beneath a layer of dust for several years.

Tiresias has found his Spirited Companion and Lively Muse. We should all, one bright day, be so lucky.

1 comment:

  1. "Inspiration is the reward of daily practice." I like that.

    And I can't stop smiling :)