Friday, December 30, 2011

Words On A Page

 "If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, 
you have to find the courage to live it." 
-John Irving

Today, my way of life consisted of sleeping until noon. This evening, my way of life consisted of the smell of meat cooking on the stove (an instant reminder of why I am not a vegetarian), of the immense calming effect being in the kitchen has over me (an instant reminder that I need to cook more), of kneading pizza dough, of eating with family. 

I spent the middle part of my day writing.

It's been a while since I've had the house to myself long enough to write and read uninterrupted, for hours. So with my room smelling like coffee and incense, I went to town. 

I always start off writing cross-legged, Indian style, before that became politically incorrect. (Not sure why that's important for anyone to know, but this is a blog about my writing, so it seems worth it to include something about my writing postures.) I then switch to writing on my stomach. This only lasts fifteen minutes or until I have a burst of an idea, which requires me to sit up so I can write faster.

The John Irving quote above made me think a bit about what way of life I might love. That ended up being too much to think about. I love sleeping until noon, but I know that won't get me far. Most writers I've met start much earlier than that, and most structured professions require, well, structure. But so long as I get my occasional all-day-in-bed, I don't think I'll consider sleep patterns much when I decide what kind of life I want to live. 

Deciding that, like I said, is far too big a fish to fry, at least for now. 

I may have filled up pages today in an attempt to establish goals or guidelines for 2012, but I know better than to think that I can write the script to my own life. Tomorrow I might wake up and find my whole philosophy has flopped. Today's entries will be, then, just words on a page. But I do enjoy writing. Sometimes it makes me crazy, but at other times it's all I need. So, maybe I'll be a novelist. Start a book. Or, more impressively, finish one. Maybe I'll write my way into oblivion all day, every day, until I make a living--or at the very least a life style. 

But like Irving says, whatever I do will take courage. When you care about someone or something--writing in this case--it can be scary to jump into that dream. But failure only inhibits us if we let our fear of failure stop us from trying. Writing can be a difficult career, requiring stamina, patience and resilience. But courageous authors know that words on a page, if strung together properly, have power. Words can make us laugh, or can bring tears to our eyes. They can connect us to the past and set the standard for the future. Letters, novels, obituaries, songs and scriptures are works of art. They hold vast knowledge, and so can never be reduced so much to be considered mere words on a page.

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