What A Head Cold Taught Me About Writing

Fog in the hollows

Fog in the hollows

 

One of my favorite websites is that of Father Ronald Rolheiser.  He’s Catholic, obviously, and I am not (Baptist, myself).  But I feel so at home with him.  There’s very little he says that I disagree with and so much that I find true and nourishing and even stimulating.  I got started with him (before my internet-surfing days) by reading his book, The Holy Longing.  I can’t remember how I came across the book, but it was mesmerizing, and right up my alley – dealing with longing and desire, subjects that are very engaging for me and for most serious writers, I would guess.

In one of his columns, he wrote of a conversation with a man who said that after a person turns 50, he or she should write a poem every day.  You ought to have experienced enough and be articulate enough to spit out a poem every day when you are that old, he said.

The person to whom the man made this suggestion resisted and protested: “How can I possibly write a poem every day?”

“It’s simple,” the first man said.  “Lower your standards.”

Well.  I think that’s pretty funny, in the first place, but I also have to say that I get it on the serious level.  It’s time to start letting it out, getting it down, saying what you have to say, while you still have time to say it.  Stop waiting for the perfect song (it may never be played) and just get out there and dance to what’s playing.

Years went by before I started talking to the world on this blog, but that advice has been a big part of my inspiration for this effort.  I have just dashed things off as I have thought and felt them, and the return has been pretty nice.  I have gotten the feeling from time to time that some of my posts have actually been understood and have kind of achieved their intended effect.  I’ve also been surprised at my output.  Turns out that it is not a matter of running out of things to say.  The more I write and the more I let go, the more ideas and inspiration I get.  I have been on a pace of almost a poem everyday (sometimes two) for several months now and when I look back at these posts, I’m not embarrassed.

But the last few days passed without a single post, and I think I know why.  I’ve had a head cold since Sunday.  Not seeking sympathy here – I caught it early, have gotten more than my share of TLC and I am surely on the mend.  But what a head cold does to me is sap my energy.  I have not missed a day of work and have even continued to do my daily workouts, but I just haven’t written anything.  So, here is my great revelation:  writing – creative writing, at least, takes a lot of energy.  You have to have something of an effervescence of  spirit about you if you’re going to create anything worth putting down.  That’s my story, for the moment, anyway.  Hope I am healed up all the way by tomorrow and that I’ll have a few hours in the sun and come back here with a few memorable lines.

 

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