Who remembers that tagline??? For more years than I can remember those words from the oh-so-sudsy Days of Our Lives marked 1:00, first in my childhood and later in my adult life. I followed my mother down the rabbit hole populated by people who died and were resurrected (how many times has Marlena died by now???), siblings lost--or never known--and found, bad boys gone good, good girls gone bad. Sometime in the late '90s it finally strained my willing suspension of disbelief to the point of breaking; I turned it off in the climactic moment of a wedding, in which someone who had gone deaf suddenly regained her hearing JUST in time to hear her about-to-be spouse proclaim his vows, and never ever turned it on again.
But ANYWAY, lately I keep hearing that dramatic tagline in my head. If I were able to draw or paint, or even manipulate photographs, I would create an art piece with an hourglass enveloped in flames...so do me a favor: close your eyes for a moment and see that image: an aged wooden framework holding an hourglass. See the smooth glass and the fine beachy sand streaming relentlessly from top to bottom. Now see orange-yellow flames licking up the sides, twining around the frame and glass, flicking like a snake's tongue. Feel the heat, feel the lure of the flame and see the sand still flowing.
Sometimes what we need to see/hear appears at exactly the right moment. In the last couple of weeks several separate things have landed in my life, colliding to create the perfect storm of creativity.
This book has inspired me. Within fifteen minutes of popping the first CD in on my drive to work, I recognized it as Very Important. I was squirming in the car seat by the time I was halfway to work. I mean, how on earth did Liz Gilbert get into my head and uncover all the fears that have created a wall between me and my own creativity? How could she possibly have known all that? I'm on the last CD and hate to have it end because it's been so powerful.
And then Lisa Sonora's 30 Day Journal Project was brought to my attention. Okay, so I'm not the art type. Oh, I'm in awe of those who are; I see pages from people's visual journals and can't imagine what it's like to think in pictures. But I was assured that if I wanted to 'just' write, that was okay too. And so I have. The journal project theme is Fire, and provides 30 days of prompts en-COURAGE-ing participants to dare to ignite their creativity.
I am terrible at sticking to things. In fact, most new resolutions, whether declared at Samhain or on January 1st dissolve in less than 48 hours. It's as if my commitment sticks out its tongue, waves its butt and chants "you're not the boss of me!" But this time around I have been the boss of it, and as of Day 12 have written in the journal every day!
It's been very good for me. One day the prompt simply didn't apply...but I made myself do an entry anyway. Another day I started by writing "I hate this prompt and have nothing to say (the prompt was:If I dared to be myself,I'm afraid....). . I went on to write a whole page. What twelve days have revealed is the depths to which my fear of failure dives, my unerring ability to make excuses, and the re-awareness that I am supposed to write. And thanks to Elizabath Gilbert I'm recognizing that "I am supposed to write" doesn't have to be followed by anything. Not, I am supposed to write...transcendent poetry, or life-altering, prize-winning novels. Just, I am SUPPOSED to write. Whatever else I do....love Linda and my kids, walk the dogs, do the laundry, be kind to strangers, go to work, felt bowls, knit scarves.....I am here to write.
But aside from fear, my biggest excuse is...no time. I have no time (I keep hearing the astronaut in the movie Armageddon--"we have NO time, NO time!"). And as I smugly gave myself permission to not write because I have no time, I heard Liz Gilbert's voice talking about writng a novel in a year in 30 minute-a day-increments. Then, after following some facebook posts like a frog leaping from lily pad to lily pad, I stumbled across a video by a guy who, due to health issues, only works on his art and writing twenty minutes a day. He wrote and illustrated a book in six months...twenty minutes at a time.
Well hell! I can do twenty minutes a day!! And so I vowed to do that. I get up very early, wake up with a first cup of coffee and the day's journal prompts. Then I pour another cup of coffee, set my timer and write twenty minutes. A couple of times, it's turned into longer than that, but the rule is, I have to sit there for twenty minutes. If no words come out, so be it, but so far in each session (for a week now) some words have happened. Today the writing is this blog. Yesterday it was character development for the novel I finally started on day one.
I've lit the fire. I have dared to begin (that's Day One's journal prompt; all are available by visiting her blog). I'm defying the hourglass.
A whispered scratch
the match strikes
towards that which will
No, cries virgin wick
not reading for consummation
not ready to be consumed.
The persistent flame teases
flares, begs with tender touch
A whispered sigh
the wick accepts
and all is changed.