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Writing: Wrestling With The Angel

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” – Mary Oliver

You know those moments when you lie there knowing you’re going to be creaky and sore even before you get out of bed? That was me after a day of bathroom renovation work. Being tall, laying tile seems especially tough on the body. But hopefully worth it in the end. But this morning was the sore all over shuffle, and I quietly got myself hydrated and caffeinated as a nod to yesterday before focusing on today’s work. Monday. Lot to do this week. Lot to do today. But first the morning routine, more important than ever when you feel like a panini in a press.

Writing every day has its rewards, but also it’s price. Time mostly, but also focus. There are mornings when I have a lot to do in the rest of my life and the last thing I want to do is write. But I write anyway to keep the streak alive and find once I’ve settled my mind to it the writing flows easily. So I sit here writing with the cat perched over my shoulder, tail whipping my head prodding me to pay attention, coffee cooling within reach, clock ticking in my head and so much to say. The writing flows despite the cat, despite the clock, despite the soreness. I’m giving power to the muse; I’ve committed to the ride.

Blogging is a different form of writing than other writing, and I know I’m stalling on the project I have in my mind. I’ve developed the consistent effort of publishing every day, but there’s more to do. The muse laughs at me and says you’re not fully committed, just look at the schedule you’ve built for yourself around work and family and bathroom renovations! Come back to me when you’re serious about that writing project and then we’ll dance. And I nod my head, knowing the truth is out. The blogging continues, the project doesn’t, the other things in life tap on my shoulder saying time for us. And I write faster, knowing this dance is almost over for the day.

Mary Oliver spotlighted the commitment needed to the craft:

“He who does not crave that roofless place eternity should stay at home. Such a person is perfectly worthy, and useful, and even beautiful, but is not an artist…

The working, concentrating artist is an adult who refuses interruption from himself, who remains absorbed and energized in and by the work—who is thus responsible to the work.

The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt.” – Mary Oliver, Upstream, Selected Essays

There it is; guilt. You either wrestle with the angel or you open the door to the rest of life to come in. It might seem like you’re all dancing together, but the muse likes to dance with you alone on the floor or not at all. I nod my regrets, say goodbye for now and welcome the Monday crowd. May we dance a bit longer next time?

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