I'm going through a combination "busy time" and "dry spell."

As the fall starts, groups of which I am a part get back together. Administrative stuff needs to be done. Events scheduled. People hired. Posters thrown together and disseminated. Plans made, and many of them are mighy grand plans, indeed, since we're all rejuvenated from summer.

And all of these busy-busy activities seem awfully tempting in the morning--if I just do these things, this X & Z, then I can mark them off my list. The novel, the stories--they'll be there at 11, or just after lunch, or I'll just go for a walk, and hey it's 5 and the day's done! Guess I'll get back to it tomorrow! (Or....)

As a complicating factor, some of us are not feeling rejuvenated from summer. Some of us are a little frazzled from all the people. Some of us have come to the point in our creative work where satisfactory work is elusive. Perhaps our characters (more people!!) are surly. They demand more exciting things to do and yet are not at all specific about what those exciting things might be.

(Playing "bring me a rock, not that rock" with a human boss is maddening and demoralizing. Playing it with a character whose only flesh and blood is yours, whose actions are boring even you, when you are the person who ostensibly creates and re-creates her--well, that's the recipe for insanity.)

My point was that for some of us, eating chocolate-oatmeal macaroons is at the outer limits of our creative imagination. Nothing sounds interesting, much less inspiring.


Pinned into my bulletin board is a page out of O Magazine from several years ago. It's an essay on Faith by Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones. (The essay is available online, but it's in a form that may violate copyright so I'll let you google.) In highlighter, I have written in the margin the take-away for me: "What must substitute for faith is discipline."

As someone who struggles with both faith and discipline, I cheered loudly when I read this. No I didn't. However, I knew then and I know now that it's true.

When I exert the discipline to sit, just sit, as near to a "first thing" as I can stand in a morning, and devote that time to my creative writing, good things happen. Also, the busy-busy admin work for others gets done. When I don't, they don't.

When I put my creative writing first, there's time for everything. When I don't, there isn't.

It's not logical. It may not be factual. However, it is true.

To sit and do "my" writing, I don't have to have faith, which is good because I usually don't. I don't have to believe I'm doing good work. I just have to sit down and bring another rock. And another one. And another. Eventually I'll have a road or maybe a wall (or a cathedral!!) or maybe a just a gigantic pile of rocks, but I'll have something.

So, discipline. Sometimes that's all there is to draw on. But sometimes, that's exactly what you need.

That and chocolate oatmeal macaroons. (At least this batch has lasted longer than 24 hours. Discipline breeds discipline.)