Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Slice of Life: Finding the Time to Write

It's Tuesday!  Today is the Slice of Life Challenge.  I'm so grateful to the writers in this community for their continued support, inspiration, and friendship.  You can stop by Two Writing Teachers to join the conversation and discover links to the stories shared.  

Recently I was speaking at a conference with a couple of my writing friends about our transitions into the world of digital writing.  As I talked to the group about the challenges writers face, one woman raised her hand.  She said what many of us have said before, "It's hard to find the time to write."  What caught my attention about this writer sitting in the audience wasn't that she had been diligently taking notes or the way she nodded as others shared or the fact that she mentioned time, it was the way she said it.  There was something about her tone.  Something about the way her shoulders slumped forward as she said it.  Something about the sadness in her eyes.  Something about the sincerity in her plea.

As I continued to speak to the group, I just couldn't take my mind off her.  You see, like her, I wrestle with time.  We all do.  It's hard to sit down at the end of a long day and write.  It's hard to train myself to stop the moment an idea comes to mind and start to scratch it out on paper or type it into my device.  It's hard to get up early enough to write before the day's responsibilities take over my thinking.  Most of all, it's hard to trust my fingers to find the words.  Writing is hard.  It's really hard.

Stories slip through our fingers because of time, but also because we sometimes talk ourselves out of an idea before it even gets to begin.  Maybe I'm always a little envious of the painter who can paint a picture so it feels like you are there.  The way the artist captures the color, the shape, the feeling of a place or a moment.  I'm always a little jealous of the photographer who can snap a picture that somehow speaks to my heart and soul or the writer who can find the words to wrap me inside a story.

If I am to be honest, sometimes I'm a little frustrated by inability to find the words to tell my own story.  Yet, if I give myself permission to take the time to find the picture or write the smallest bit of words, I begin to discover the trail of a story that might otherwise have been forgotten.  Maybe someday I can get back to that story and paint the words with a little more detail or with a little more perspective.

When I drive through towns with houses peppering the busy streets or fly over cities with lights shining toward the sky, I can't help but wonder about the stories just slipping away in the day to day busyness of our lives.  I can almost picture them creeping up into the clouds, the thickness of the story turning to a thin vapor before it disappears forever.

When I think about the writer in the audience that day I hope somehow she found comfort in our conversation.  I hope she is fortunate to find a writing community to hold her up and help her move forward.  As I looked at her that day, and then over at all of the people I have come to know through digital writing in this Slice of Life community, I wanted to pause to introduce them to each other.  I hope she finds a community to help her push through one word at a time.  I hope she finds the time and the determination to find her story.  Maybe that's all that really matters.  Maybe it only matters that we're here and we find our stories.

"So I dip by toe into the stream.  I feel the rush of words there.  Words that are like a thousand silvery minnows, below the surface, rushing by.  If I don't capture them, they will be lost."  Still Writing:  The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life  ------ by Dani Shapiro  (Thanks, Stacey, for the recommendation)

9 comments:

  1. " Maybe it only matters that we're here and we find our stories." Yes! All of us struggle with finding the time to tell our stories, and are empowered and validated each time we do.
    So glad that I was able to attend your session, Cathy - let the stories continue!

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  2. "Stories slip through our fingers because of time." How irrevocably true. There are so many times during the day in which I think, "Oh, I've GOT to write about this later!" In all honesty, not many laters come to fruition. As writers, it's hard to capture the magic of a moment and give it the time it deserves in the hustle and bustle of the daily grind. I know that I've found it difficult to write about the moments of my day which make me most thankful to be a teacher- what happened and what I end up saying somehow become two separate things.. Sigh. Thank you for this food for thought, friend.

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  3. "I can't help but wonder about the stories just slipping away in the day to day busyness of our lives." I have thought of this too. I was nodding my head all of the way through. This is why I have started to keep notebooks all over and in my purse. I am trying to do a better job at capturing those moments, but it takes effort that I am not always willing to give. I'm learning and growing though and little by little, writing my stories is becoming more of a habit. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  4. I really enjoyed this line - I can almost picture them creeping up into the clouds, the thickness of the story turning to a thin vapor before it disappears forever.

    I too struggle with all the stories fading and am working on writing. It's been very thoughtful of you to think more about the woman in your audience and have her provoke writing for you.

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  5. My favorite line is Mandy's too, I can almost picture them creeping up to the clouds... This is a wonderful post to read at the end of the long, long day when I've read many words, some I know were written late, after their own long, long day, & still they, like you, Cathy, wrote. The community sharing and supporting, really a lovely thing isn't it? I love the quote, started slicing yesterday with my students, will share with them!

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  6. Cathy-
    I wasn't going to write yesterday. A really long hard day and it was 8:30 and I was exhausted. And then I came over here and read your post and pictured those stories creeping up into the clouds and turning to vapor, and I thought about all of the stories from my boys' lives that I didn't tell and it made me really sad. I headed back to my computer, didn't get very far, but at least I tried. Thank you for the power of your words. Carol

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  7. What a gift you have given to others through your wonderful writing.. I am so proud of you and your ability "to find the time" to write such wonderful stories.. I wish I had taken the time....

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  8. Making time to sit down to write is something we all struggle with. Right now I feel just as frustrated as the woman at your session. Your image of the stories slipping away, creeping up into the clouds is perfect, and I agree that having this community is an important reason to keep going. I will make time today to write! Thanks for sharing, Cathy! It was great meeting you at NCTE!

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  9. Love this Cathy! Thank you for sharing and inspiring us all! I love when you share your stories.
    Clare

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