All Out Of Ink

May 15, 2011

Make a Note of It

Filed under: Inspiration,Writing Tips — Laynie @ 10:37 pm

Even for a diligent writer, sometimes writing takes a backseat to the necessary living of life. With kids, that’s even more true. Big things, small things, and nearly-invisible things gang up on you. Well-meaning (or sometimes know-it-all) folks will tell you to take things one at a time. These people may come from any of the following scenarios: 1. They do not have children, 2. They have forgotten what children are like, or 3. They have been living in a land of makebelieve long enough to think they can create reality by saying things out loud enough times. (The third situation can be caused by re-reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” too many times in a row, so be careful; you could be next.)

There are nooks and crannies writing can fit into. This is not to be confused with cracks it might fall between. Those are larger and easier to find. No, nooks and crannies are the minutes in between things. It would be nice if you could collect these in a jar like loose change, then count them out and use them all at once. But you can’t. Instead, stick notebooks where these precious seconds tend to happen. In the glove box of the car for while you’re waiting in the pick-up line at the kids’ school. In the spice cabinet for while you’re cooking. In your lunchbox or locker for breaks if you go to an outside job. This sometimes works better than trying to carry one notebook everywhere.

Instead of collecting moments and using them all at once, collect pages. When you put the page from today with the page from yesterday and the three pages from last week, it starts to resemble something. You can make pages from many things. A plot line. A bit of dialog. A character sketch. A random line or stanza for a possible poem. A striking turn of phrase. Don’t limit yourself to your own thoughts. If you’re in the grocery store and overhear a stranger say something uncommonly wise or particularly stupid, make a note. That could be useful too.

One of my favorites is from a doctor’s office. A man waiting for his appointment was talking to the lady who had brought him. She was associated with an assistance program for his transportation. It made me sad when I realized she wasn’t paying any attention at all to what he was saying. I paid attention.

“I was miserable and I should have gotten out long before I did,” he said. “I had every right to. But there were those good moments and I wouldn’t have missed them for the world.”

At this point, the best way to conclude this entry would be to say writing is like that and draw a nice comparison. I can’t. I don’t think it has anything to do with writing. Writing isn’t something you should ever get out of, in my opinion.

The statement stuck with me because it meant something else. Three years have passed, and I’m still finding new ways to understand the wisdom in it. I know it’s partly about this one vehicle I owned. I think it’s probably about some of the friends I’ve had. So far, it speaks most directly about all the places I’ve lived, especially the ones I hated.

I wrote his words on a fresh page in the notebook I had with me. I wanted to remember them. Someday, I am going to use them at the end of something special. Until then, I will keep making pages in the moments between things. When writing takes a backseat to the living of life, I will refuse to feel guilty about it. Instead, I will enjoy the living. In fact, I will enjoy it twice because it is what I plan to write about.

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