Writing A Book & Parallel Parking…

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Dear Ones, 

I realized this morning that I had made it. Made it safely into the book. Past the danger zone where you keep changing the title and the first couple of pages and then peter out and quit. After 3 attempts I connected with the writing vibe and was almost giddy with this morning’s writing. When I closed Scrivener I tweeted this:

“Beginning to write a book is like parallel parking. You back in and out, in and out, and finally you are parked. I am parked. I’m in.”

And then I tweeted, because I was on some kind of high as I finished writing this morning —

“I realized this morning that I had found my rhythm. I wrote staring off into space, not looking at the keyboard. There were no typos.”

And then I wrote on my Facebook page, “Becoming An Artist At 60” where I will be keeping a log of my process writing this book along with the journey that I record with my art:

“I am going to chronicle my journey of writing this book with you here. It is an unusual book and it is so right on for me and it feels so good. I will write these little notes, like breadcrumbs along the way. One day you can follow the breadcrumbs right into the pages of the book. Won’t that be grand?”

And finally, on my Facebook page I wrote:

“My art supports my writing. I will be painting later today. Painting and, perhaps, typing with paint stained fingers. Or perhaps weaving, fibery fingers finding their way back and forth from the keyboard to the loom. I believe one must engage in several artistic practices at once if one is to get the job done.”

And that’s the thing, we don’t write in a vacuum. I truly believe that if writing is all you are doing it will lack dimension. You don’t need to paint or weave but get outside, work in a garden, have other physical or artistic pursuits, cooking say, and live as fully as you can, because you bring that with you onto the page.

Also I have been listening to music off and on all day. Playing with moods and music. I put YouTube on streaming on the t.v. and put on music videos that I love and dance with them, all over the place, with the pugs and Miss Scarlett the grey parrot who love all the excitement. When my booty gets leaden in the chair I get up and dance. Lately I listen to the original Village People doing YMCA. I love their video. And Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, “I Will Survive.” I just love them. And more. And then I get closer to writing and I have just an ache inside when I think of Freddy Mercury whom I have adored for decades, Queen’s music just rocks my soul, and I watch the videos and rock it with Freddy singing and then I sink down lower and put on Bohemian Rhapsody which I believe is the finest song ever written, and I play it over and over and it breaks my heart and makes me literally break down sobbing. Every single time. And this cracks me open to that place of truth and deep feeling so that I can touch down on the bedrock of truth that is so hard to reach. You have to be broken open. Freddy does that for me. And then I put on Queen again with Freddy singing, “We are the champions, we are the champions of the world.” And I am singing along and crying and shaking and dancing and high fiving and sending up messages of love to Freddy in the heavens and I am catapulted into my work. When I get in deep I switch to classical music and I have a whole roster depending on what kind of mood or scene I am writing. Right now it is 6 hour Mozart piano classics. Classical music has been the music I have written to for 40 years and I choose the composer by the mood of the piece and the weather inside of me. Sometimes it has to be Chopin, sometimes Bach. Sometimes you need something bright to clear the palette. (As I am editing this post I have switched to a gorgeous collection: “Music for reading – Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Debussy, Liszt, Schumann…”)

Now the strangest thing, and another good auger for my writing is that since the fire, now over a year ago, I have not been able to listen to music almost at all. That part of me was dead and closed. It goes hand in hand with my writing and now I write and listen to music all day, 7 days a week. This is my life, my real life, and I have returned with a deep sense of gratitude and relief, with hosannas and hallelujahs. The music, the writing, my animals, nature — my studio door is standing open and the wild birds and squirrels are at the many feeders and I can hear them and there has been no greater peace for me for some time.

Since I last wrote a week ago about spending far more time offline there have been many interesting things happen. First of all somewhere in the middle of the week I deleted everything in my email box. Inbox/spam/sent/trash. All gone. I had saved important mail in file folders for safekeeping along the way but there was just so much there I felt like banging my head against the wall. Someone said something this week that really struck me. They said that all of that mail was someone else’s agenda in your mailbox. Whoa. And so it went. I am a bipolar writer and artist who has been through hell and back in this last year since my house burned down and with these mental heatlh issues that I deal with ongoing it can be a struggle just to get through the days. Radical self care is essential, and getting rid of the flood of email has helped enormously.

Too I find it curious that when I explained that I would spend less time online those who know me well and love me were incredibly supportive and really happy to see me back to work, but a few people that I’ve gotten to know and like very much online but don’t really know deeply personally have gotten angry or upset when I wouldn’t answer them right away. I have been shocked, but if those people cannot support you they don’t really care about you. I’m sorry but as much as I do care deeply and will be present as I can — I hop on and off to do a few things and then shut it all down again and write — I can’t and won’t and never did like to “chat.” That is reserved for a very few people and not very often anymore, and those near and dear ones understand. I am eliminating an enormous amount of my interractions with the outside world because it takes all the focus I can muster to take care of my life and days and write this book and it is not only important to me it is life saving. I have also seen a number of people drop off my “friends” list on Facebook recently and I am very much at peace with this. I remember someone saying a long time ago that if people leave they are not your tribe, bless them and wish them well as they leave. And I do, most sincerely, and then I continue my work.

This is so new for me that every day is a revelation. I have spent most of my 60 years writing and only the last few have I had trouble doing so. I am an anchorite, I have been on a long, difficult pilgrimage and I have found my way home. It was hard won and will not easily be lost. I won’t let it. I am like a mother tigress protecting her young when it comes to protecting this life I have created in which to work and rest and find the balance that I need to get through my life with its myriad challenges. I am finding my way again. I will clear-cut the path in any way that I need to to keep on going.

I am finding that writing first thing in the morning, after taking care of all of the animals, before I even have breakfast or make coffee, is best for me, and like so many writers before me I find it best to work from what my dear friend and writer May Sarton called primary intensity, those first hours of the morning before the day encroaches. Then I let it go to make my breakfast and coffee, and have some time on the internet, and I go back and forth between many things in the afternoon and blogging in the evening is perfect. I thought I would do less blogging but I may be doing more. It is a way to bring together all of the areas of my life and look closely at them, see where I need to find more balance, and what I can use to fuel me to keep writing more.

It is a sublime moment in time. It is exquisite. My whole body is relaxed and melting down into the floor, through the floor into the earth below the house. I am connected to what I hold holy, the earth, nature, the living things, family, which I treasure above all — we had a wonderful dinner last night at my daughter Rachel’s for my sweet son-in-law Jeremy’s birthday, and my eldest daughter is due to have her second baby any time now. This life matters more to me than anything else I could possibly have and I thank God every single day, and I chant my mantra, and I return to my Buddhist roots, and my Catholic upbringing, and the Christian teachings that are so powerful. Spirit is everywhere in every form and I drink it all in and feast at the banquet of all things holy. My plate is very full. My mind is reeling in an ecstatic state that I thought I might never find again. This is my life as a writer.

Every writer has their own process and way of working. I am sharing mine, for whatever it’s worth, and to help me keep track of myself as I go along.

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Make this the year your resolutions come true!

Make this the year your resolutions come true!

Comments

  1. congratulations on returning full thrust to writing and music (and dancing). how delightful and delicious and heart-warming
    to read your post. i celebrate with you my dear friend — and the book you are writing is???

    xo
    ka

    • Thank you so much Ka, you are so dear, and I am not sharing the book at this point. I have struggled too long to get back into the work and I am very protective of it. I may share tidbits when I get further along, but thank you for your support. Much love to you…. <3

  2. Love this post, Maitri — it’s full of meaning and inspiration — and sounds wonderful for you, at this time and place.

    • Thank you so much Lisa, your kind comments mean the world to me. And it is a wonderful place indeed. Amen & Hallelujah! 😀

  3. Karen Surratt says:

    THIS IS AMAZING!! HALLELUJAH!! CAN IT BE THAT YOU ARE SOMEHOW ”READING MY MAIL,” AS YOU LIVE / BREATH THIS NEW WRITING LIFE!!! I AM EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE!! BIPOLAR CHALLEGE TOO. THE BLOGS, THE MULTI CREATIVE-TASKING, AND MY LORD, THE MUSIC!! All day — the FB De-Friends. The guarding this life — me from neighbors in Senior Bldg. MY MUSIC DIFFERENT, BUT SAME EFFECT with John Tussey’s ”Frequencies” series ( music embedded with the Periodic Table Of Elements)! WONDERFUL WRITING AS USUAL! SO-O- AMAZINGLY DELIGHTFUL TO ”SHARE A PEEK” to witness this mirror-reflection of a life-process. Makes me feel, I don’t know, less different, when not compared with only ”the herd” mentality. So, refreshing!! You, go, Maitri!! <3

    • Karen honey you are such a delight! And you honor me with all of your kind comments. I am so glad that it helped you.

      Blessings to you dearheart, and keep on keeping on. YOU ROCK!!!!

      <3

  4. I’m loving this post too. It is so filled with hope and lover and joy. It’s so good to see you happy and centered. Keep up the good work.

    • Thank you so much Paula honey, it is wonderful to have friends with you on the journey cheering you on. Sending you lots of love and a big hug…. <3

  5. You are in your zone, Maitri….I can feel it! I am so happy for you…your zest for life and for your art is contagious!
    So keep singing, dancing, painting and writing…I am with you in spirit dear friend. ☺️

  6. Thank you Donna sweetie. This is me, twirling in the cottage and on the page! Wheeeeeeeee…… 😀

  7. Olive Appleby says:

    Hi Maitri
    Another insightful blog. You have to do whatever it takes to live your life your way. If folk don’t get it, that’s up to them. When I was ill many years ago, I dropped lots of friends who turned out not to be true, those that were stuck with me and have helped me through some difficult times since. As I said we are your family and family help each other (mostly), so that’s what we’ll do. When you dip in and out on the net Maitri, it will be that you have gone into the kitchen to make your famous latte and will be back soon……. Just keep rocking it. Hugs Olive. Xxxxxxxxx

    • Thank you so much Olive, you are a dear dear friend, and when I make my famous latte 🙂 today I’ll make you a virtual one and send it out to you! Your comments here always mean the world to me. Blessings dear friend….. <3

  8. I’m smiling ear to ear. My contract is coming to an end so those early hours will be mine once again. They are my best writing hours so I really connected with your starting the day connecting with the deep, soul work you are doing. You are setting the clear boundaries you need in order to pour your energies into this book. I will follow the breadcrumbs with delight and look forward to one day being among the first to buy it.

    • Oh darling Cathryn… we are such deep soul kindred spirits. You are my soul sister. I am so proud of you for your beautiful book. We shall walk this path together. My book is a very unusual format but I am in love with it. Will likely be self-publishing but how glorious that we have the option these days! Such total freedom. And the wonderful thing is that you can feel it when you are writing too. No “Oh I really want to say or do this or put some artwork in or…” and knowing if you do the publishers wouldn’t touch you with a 10 foot pole. You’ve no idea how often books that I wrote were held onto for a long while and I would get a lovely letter or even a phone call saying that my writing was beautiful but just didn’t fit the market. My novels were poetic prose, and one publisher said they regretted it as soon as they sent it back, and when I asked if I could send it back they said, “I wish I could say yes.” It got so that I told my husband I wish they’d just tell me, “Listen sister, your writing sucks, go get a job at K-Mart.” or some such. It’s harder hearing all of the people tell you how much they love your writing BUT they can’t publish it. I plan to put in art and photos and just absolutely glorious things so it feels very personal. I have such dreams. Here we go darling Cathryn, and doesn’t it feel wonderful? Sending you much love…. <3

  9. Teresa Myszka says:

    Oh dear Maitri, you make my heart sing. It’s wonderful to hear your enthusiasm. I can feel your spirit soar. I am delighted that you are sharing your artistic process and am honored to be witness to it. I look forward to the breadcrumbs, and will be one of the many that will purchase your book.

    • Teresa honey you are so kind. It’s wonderful to be writing again, full on, it feels really good, and it would delight me no end to know that you were sitting reading the book one day Bless you for saying that and for visiting here. Be well dear friend….

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