Last month, I told you about my goals – small, attainable goals – to recapture joy of writing, story, and life. So with one month down, it’s time for me to report on my progress.
Learn something new everyday and make connections to story. When I started on my path to joie d’ecriture, I’d tried to spend some time at the end of each week remembering what I’d learned. As it turned out, I was typically too mentally exhausted to actually come up with anything. So I started using the notebook I always have with me (you know writers and notebooks) to jot down something I learned every day. I’m not going to lie – some days I’m really wracking my brain for something useful it has absorbed. But I’m getting better at recognizing little things I either didn’t know or didn’t notice before. And I find I’m focusing most on human behavior, on the ways different people react to certain situations. I’m hoping at the end of my experiment, I’ll be a better writer of human nature. At the very least, I’m keeping track of some interesting details that are bound to attach themselves to some of my characters.
Make social connections. I had a suspicion I’d enjoy myself if I just put on put on pants and went out into the world on occasion to attend events and enjoy human company. To test this theory, in January I went with a wonderful group of people to see a production of Bizet’s opera Le Pêcheurs de Perles, which has some really well-known music but, weirdly, had not been performed by any of the major opera companies for a hundred years. I’ve been waiting to see this opera on stage since I fell in love with the recording of Jussi Bjorling and Robert Merrill singing Au Fond du Temple Saint decades ago, so this was a special treat for me. And my suspicion was confirmed – I did enjoy myself!
Drink good wine. January’s special wine was a 2013 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon, enjoyed with my husband and a few family members. I don’t know how to apply the 100-point wine rating system, so I’ll just give this one two thumbs up!
Enjoy story. Well, Blacklist is back from winter hiatus, so we’re watching that each week. And we are totally enamored with a sitcom starring Rob Lowe (I’m a child of the ’80’s; I’m legally obligated to have a slight crush on Rob Lowe). The show is called Grinder, and Lowe plays a famous TV actor who has retired but just can’t quite bring himself to quit his long-time TV show character. When I watch a show and find myself saying, “Those writers are just having too damn much fun,” it helps me remember that story, and yes, writing, can be fun! As for books, I’ve been re-reading some Barbara Kingsolver books. Don’t know why, just got struck with a nostalgic need to re-read Pigs in Heaven and The Bean Trees. Next on my list is The Poisonwood Bible, which I loved so hard when I read it years ago! I hope it holds up.
That’s what I love about attainable goals – I can actually attain them! Now the plan is to keep this up for the next 11 months, whether or not I’m able to work on my writing. And I have to say, it feels like my approach to joie d’ecriture is already paying off.
Some part of my brain continues to cogitate on story. I’ve unraveled a few plot tangles. Characters in multiple stories are revealing their secrets to me, and I use my handy-dandy notebook handy to capture what they’re telling me. And one night last week, I woke up with a song in my head (Linda Rondstadt’s Long, Long Time) and felt the melancholy and angst it represents for one of my characters. I’m not yet sure what all the character’s issues are, but I’ve added the song to my playlist for that story and have faith that she (and the Girls) will tell me what it means in good time.
What have you been doing lately to fill your creative well? And
more just as importantly, do you have any wine recommendations for me for next month?