A task of light
It's amazingly cold today. The sky is that clear blue that makes you feel like the atmosphere has been scraped clean off the earth, and there's nothing above you but the stars and the moon and that deep, deep cold.
On the way to work this morning I heard an interview with a virtuoso violinist who is performing locally this weekend. Well. Most of an interview. The interviewer kept talking over him, and babbling on about how fascinating the things he was saying were, and then she'd play a "snippet" of his music which just served to remind you how much you'd rather be listening to him play, rather than her talk. And talk. Can you tell I've been working on my patience? Because I have.
Here's the important part: she finally got around to asking him 'what advice do you have for young musicians and their parents, just starting out?' And his answer kind of shocked me, and got me to thinking about writing.
He said "Enjoy it." I mean, that's a paraphrase. His long answer was something like "Do it because you're passionate about it, because it speaks to you and lets you speak to other people. Do it because it makes you a fuller person." And then he talked some about how there was a tiny bit of discipline involved to get over the initial unpleasant stuff, those first few years of learning to play and practicing while your family cringes politely around you, but once you're beyond that point it's just a matter of doing what you would naturally do.
At first I thought he was expressing typical British (because he's a Brit) understatement when he said "a tiny bit of discipline" but later I realized he was dead serious. That if you're having to apply huge sums of discipline to the task, if you're forcing yourself to do this every night, then what the hell are you doing? At least that's what he said to me.
That's contrary to a lot of what I've learned about writing in the last few years. Mostly because I'm not just writing, I have the day job and a busy social calendar (ha!) and I have to squeeze my writing time out increasingly smaller parts of my day. So until I'm able to more fully form my life around my writing, there will always be some element of discipline to the process. But that discipline needs to be supplemented by joy. Joy in the process, joy in the product, joy in the belief that what we're doing is making us better people. I did not enjoy writing the book I am writing right now, and I'm afraid that will show up in the final product. I'm sure it will. Whatever light there was in that work, I lost it in the scheduling.
So. I guess I'm rededicating myself to the joy of writing. Because otherwise, what the hell am I doing?