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Meaning And Discipline

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law_keven / Foter

I have been practicing forbearance as an art form lately. Really, if someone would have told me that adulthood was comprised of being calm and polite until one had a grip on the situation’s short hairs, then pulling hard while smiling sweetly, I would have been even more eager to get here.

I mean, I was eager for “childhood” and adolescence to be done anyway. To me, being a child/teen was being helpless, at the daily mercy of chaotic, unpredictable, and hurtful forces. Adulthood is the same, really, except having my own car keys and bank account gives me the illusion of being in control. As long as I have that illusion, I’m chilly. The perception of having some sort of say in one’s own life works absolute wonders, much as Frankl posits that finding some meaning in even the most horrific conditions can save a psyche. (Or, if not “save,” at least keep it from disintegrating completely.)

Anyway, I’m on the home stretch of a Major Life Change, and almost able to speak about it publicly. There will be hilarious blog posts in the future, I’m sure. But for right now, I’m exhausted and finally feeling like I have some sort of control over a situation, and it relieves a great deal of pressure. I’ve been using writing as a decompression during this whole thing, and struggling with the fact that one must have mental and emotional energy in order to write.

At different times in my life, writing has been confessor, framework, best friend, jealous mistress, lifeboat, parent, faithful lover, teacher, outlet, defense, weapon, and a million other things. The bare act of putting the words down, that mundane sorcery we take for granted, has been pretty much all things to me. The worst bit about the stress I’ve been under is some days, the words have to be chipped out of my cranium with a battle axe. Groping for a word, struggling to find any word at all, is one of my personal versions of hell. As the stress has receded, it’s gotten better–but the habit of sitting each day and refusing to leave until the words come, however molasses-slowly or blood-painfully, has been the only thing keeping me nailed to the chair so I at least get some of them out. This is why I harp so endlessly on the subject of discipline–if I hadn’t had that habit, God alone knows how painfully lost I might have been. It actually makes me shudder.

Anyway. Time to do, again. Hey, on a completely unrelated note, learn some new things about rabies! *shudders once more*

Over and out.

6 thoughts on “Meaning And Discipline”

  1. Life takes a lot of courage, that’s for certain – and you sound like you’ve got courage and then some. I’m glad writing kept you sane. 🙂 There’s a lot in life we don’t have control over, but we do have control over ourselves- and your dedication to discipline is a perfect example of that. I’m glad things are getting better, and I hope they continue to get better. 🙂

  2. It’s so comforting to hear a professional say that “one must have mental and emotional energy in order to write.” I did a writing retreat just over a week ago and I was beating myself up a bit over how little progress I’ve made on my novel in the last 10 years. But the last 10 years really have been a bitch — health issues, Hurricane Katrina, caring for elderly grandparents, moving house over & over — it’s probably a small miracle I’ve done any writing at all. Every time I try to get started again, I feel like the Universe hits me with another crisis. I hope it runs out of crises soon… the length of time I’ve been working on this one book is getting embarrassing.

    • The other half of the “one must have mental and emotional energy to write” equation is that the energy must come from somewhere. You must make that time and hoard that energy, and jealously guard your writing time, even if it’s only 15min a day.

      • One of the conclusions I came to on retreat is that I really can make little bits of progress in 15 minutes a day, and I resolved to do that when I got home. I think I did it for 3 days, and then it looked like our home purchase deal (necessitated because our landlord is selling when our lease ends next month) was going to fall through. [ Cue days of panic, emotional breakdown, etc. ] The deal is back on, and it looks like I’ve successfully fought off a near cold or some such, so I’m giving myself another couple of days to recover and then I’m going to try, try again. It was so easy to believe in the novel and in myself as a writer when I was on retreat, surrounded by other writers. Having discussions through the Net isn’t quite the same… but every little bit helps. :-} Thanks for the reply, & good luck with your own struggles.

  3. Once again, you remind me what it was that made me start writing in the first place so many years ago.

    Best of luck with the change in your life.

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