Freshly squeezed writing juices

So much to write, so little time. Once upon a time, I wrote on my blog … often. I wrote to resuscitate my comatose brain that had atrophied from spending the majority of my time making grocery lists, doing laundry and preparing kid-friendly meals. Conversation that used to revolve around industry news or art house film or politics morphed into simple sentences packaged neatly for child-brains. Writing was more of an escape than it was a hobby or a practice of craft, and I certainly never considered it an occupation.

But something happened after months of writing a lot. I began to define myself as a writer. This new descriptive made it to my top ten list of definitions along with Jewish, Gemini* and lady-lover.

*I have read that Western astrology identifies signs by season and not by the positions of the constellations. The recent information regarding the moon’s gravitational pull and changes in zodiac signs apparently does not affect signs here on this side of the world. This may or may not be true, but I choose to accept it for now.

And once I started branding myself a writer, others followed suit. Some of those others even presented me with writing opportunities outside of my blog. And a few of the some actually forked over a bit of dosh for my efforts.

Like all good goal-oriented ENTJs, I need to look into the future and figure out my next steps now that I am a writer. Easier said than done. So, I’m taking a writing workshop. Having never taken a writing class nor been a part of a writing group, I feel overwhelmed and less than confident, and my left eye-lid twitches throughout the days that I have to submit work. That said, I feel awake and challenged, and sitting amongst talented people gets my juices flowing. If I’m being honest, I’m not exactly sure it’s the juices that are flowing. For those of you who have ever spent time in New York City apartments in the dead of winter, you’ll know that you have no control over the heat that is clearly set to “bowels of hell” degrees, and you can actually keep the windows wide open while the temperature outside is bitterly cold and still feel overheated. So when I stand up after 3 hours of writing talk, either my juices are flowing or my vagina is sweating.

So, I told my friends that I’m taking a writing workshop that makes my eye twitch and my vagina sweat, and I learned that a couple of them have been working on writing projects of their own. We talked about the challenges of carving out sacred, writing time outside of child minding. We talked about how isolating it is to write. And then Lauren suggested we meet up once a morning a week and write. No chitchat. No kvetching about spouses or school politics. Just writing. And with that, three of us came out of the writing closet just a little further and committed to a weekly writing session.

This morning was our first official writing session. Rebecca hosted, and I arrived a few minutes before Lauren. We chatted as we powered up our computers and determined seating. Once we positioned ourselves comfortably, we continued to talk.

Deborah: I’m going to move this vase of flowers in front of you so that I won’t be tempted to talk to you. Are these Valentine’s Day flowers?

Rebecca: Yes.

D: Nice.

R: Thank you.

D: I can’t stop talking. I promise to shut up when Lauren gets here. I hope I can do this write-and-not-talk thing. I’m easily distracted.

R: Me, too. We just have to get our rhythm.

D: You’re right. Can I quote you? I’m writing a blog post.

R: Yes. Always. Toujours.

D: You’re so very cultured.

R: Ok, we have to stop talking.

D: I know, right?

R: I thought I would be the worst offender because I was always the chatty one in my classes, but, well, I’m putting on my headphones and plugging in to the music now. It’s not a personal thing…but I’m going to have trouble focusing with your blabby mouth. Just kidding.

D: No you’re not. I need to stop talking to you through the flowers and get to it. It’ll be easier now that I’m writing down everything you say.

R: Am I going to look dumb?

D: Impossible.

R: AM I TALKING TOO LOUD?
She was yelling over The Smiths, and I yelled back at her just for fun.

D: LAUREN’S AT THE DOOR! JUST PRETEND WE’VE BEEN WRITING THIS WHOLE TIME!

Lauren tiptoed in assuming we’ve been hard at work.

Lauren: Sorry. Sorry. I took a quick shower and didn’t even wash my hair so I could get here in time.

D: I can’t imagine showering without washing my hair.

L: It’s just that it stays wet forever.

D: Don’t hand me things like that, Lauren.

Rebecca plugged herself back in and typed. Lauren scratched words on to a page in her spiral notebook…with a pencil! I couldn’t help but stare. Handwriting…in pencil?!? That’s not even old school. That’s one room schoolhouse, Laura Ingalls shit. “I like to know that I can erase,” she explained.

There are builders in the back yard sawing and drilling and hammering. They’re making all sorts of noise, but it’s noise that we’re all used to hearing out here in the suburbs. Between landscapers and their plantation sized tractors and leaf blowers that look like they could launch a man into space if pointed in the right direction, there’s a lot of noise associated with house maintenance.

R: I’m so sorry, guys. If it’s too loud with all the pounding, we could move into another room.

D: That’s ok. I like the sound of pounding.

L: If you ever need a good handyman, I know a guy who is really reasonable and trustworthy.

We stopped writing. Clearly, we agreed without discussion that the business of maintaining our houses was worth interrupting the writing process.

And when we had all entered the handyman’s name in our phones, we wrote quietly and diligently without interruption for the remainder of our session. We found our rhythm, and we were jammin’. Somehow, jammin’ sounded much better in my head than it looks on the page.

13 thoughts on “Freshly squeezed writing juices

  1. Love that you’re in a writing group! During my years working at the Writers’ Center it was clear that writers who took formal writing classes AND continued working with an informal peer group were able to produce more and carve out the time to write. In your “free time” (haha) you might, down the road, consider even formalizing the informal process, perhaps establishing a women’s “room of our own” that is a dedicated writing space….

  2. I liked this… really really liked it. So, your first writing session was a success!
    Good for you for finding and forming a group of like-minded souls. Have fun with it.

  3. A writing group, sounds like a great idea. I’m a horrible writer, my sounds just never sing and flow like I think they should.
    I love your writing style, well what I read on here. Best wishes!

  4. Thanks, Dana!! It’s amazing how good it feels to write with writers.

    SSB, i hear your voice in your writing which not everyone can accomplish. i’m not sure what you consider to be horrible writing, but yours isn’t it. we’re all on a never-ending path of practice and improvement. stop kicking yourself, and enjoy the journey. keep me posted along the way!

  5. Sounds like it was fun and productive. My friend Susan and I (my blog partner) get together once a week and write, jot down ideas, plan, etc. It is so much more fun to work with your friends around.

  6. Such a great plan to have a blog partner and a regular meeting day, Carol! It’s like having a work-out buddy except you don’t have to wear spandex (unless you choose to wear spandex).

  7. Kudos for taking the plunge, Deborah. I took writing workshops at the West Side YMCA for a few years (’96-’99) and formed my own writing group in Brooklyn during the same time. While both made me productive, they both eventually drove me nuts. The best writing group came later with poets who looked at me as their token prose writer. We wrote every week together following Peter Elbow’s book Writers Without Teachers or (something like that) though I preferred Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones.

    Anyway, these poets and I cooked up the idea of having writing marathons: timing our writing sessions for 20 mins, 40 mins, 1 hr, etc. across a weekend day. They were a lot of fun.

    I’d love to talk writing with you, the process, the pain, the mental flossing, etc.

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