Cultivating The Write Stuff

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It’s Monday. Not a momentous event in and of itself, but there were moments over the weekend I wondered if I’d make it here.

To be honest, in fifteen minutes it will no longer be morning. I’ve had my coffee, I’ve eaten breakfast and even had a little protein snack, but I’m still in my robe, slogging around my house in my pink fuzzy slippers, feeling half brain-dead and jonesing for a nap like a lazy cat crossing a sunbeam.

I’m coming off of a lost weekend, as hungover-useless as any morning after a night of drinking too many tequila shooters and dancing on pool tables ever left me (yes there are pictures, no I won’t post them). I didn’t drink my way here and by lost weekend I don’t mean I have no recollection of events. On the contrary, if the memory of the past 48 hours wasn’t etched into my brain (and every muscle of my body) I’d swear I had an intimate encounter with the grill of a fast moving Mac truck.

So how did I end up in such a pitiful place? I took a writing workshop online. Scratch that – it was a short story intensive, taught by a very successful author of popular fiction, that was nearly the death of me. Fortunately, I’m still here, and since I am let me just say she sets the gold standard for the meaning of intensive—endurance marathons of writing by example, creating from scratch, critiquing and revising, and very few hours left for sleep after homework assignments.

To be clear, I knew what I was getting into, or I thought I did. The course was recommended to me by an alumni and friend; he told me what to expect. He told me it was fast paced and he had a hard time keeping up. He told me he didn’t have a free minute for anything else the entire weekend. He didn’t lie and I wasn’t underestimating his endurance. There is simply no narrative to accurately describe the experience.

I didn’t have time to share more than two words with my husband at any given break. Those words were “Not now,” spoken with my hand held up to silence his every request or comment. My husband didn’t take offense, but my cat is totally snubbing me for abandoning her.

I was warned to prepare meals for the entire weekend in advance, and I did, but even warming them up in the microwave often required more time than I had to spare. Cold chicken and rice isn’t the most appetizing meal I’ve ever had; I’m wondering if I actually lost weight

Nearing the end of the second day (9:00 am. to 10 pm. not counting assignments before and after) I kept hearing the question in my head, Is it worth all this?

Yes, it was definitely worth it. Every demand on my mind and body (and what sometimes felt like my soul) was worth every second of time, energy and effort expended and hours of sleep sacrificed.

Today, hungover without benefit alcohol and the accompanying fun, and feeling like I have ten-pound weights strapped to each ankle, I still got out of bed, drank coffee, and ate (a hot) breakfast. More to the point, in spite of feeling like Little Blackie just before Rooster Cogbun ran the poor pony to its death in True Grit, I wrote two essays, pitched another and completed this blog post before noon, all so I could spend the afternoon working on my short story.

Being a writer isn’t about having a good story in your head, it’s about the motivation it takes to keep writing every day. It’s about knowing how to get the words onto the page. That’s the write stuff—and now I have more of it.