it's morning and i've been up a bit, reading here and there all the rules about writing, and they are a lot like the rules about exercise. do it in the morning and then get on with your day. apparently one size fits all in the world of rules. back when i used to work out, i tried that morning thing, tripping over my own toes, dropping weights, sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. morning writing is a lot less dangerous, at least physically, and i appreciate the stumbles across the page more than those stumbles across a cold floor.
i think the truth lives in those stumbles, in those shaky sentences.
but rules? get it done and get on with my day?
get it done?
i gather phrases and words throughout my day, seeds that often must be planted under a full moon, or 3 breaths past the new moon, or sometimes as the evening sun sinks below a horizon line i can't see for all the trees. i jot sentences across the backs of bank deposit slips or type them into my phone while in line at mcdonald's. i leave myself voice memos and laugh at how texan i sound when later i listen to the ideas i had or the descriptions of thieves i have known.
and later i write. i begin at night or mid afternoon and then comes the morning and the stumbling of truths and lies. i am distracted by catfights and the songs of birds, and i need food only after i've begun to type. i watch the weather and burn the toast and open windows and my toes go from cold to hot, and i am up and down and interrupted, and sunshine like we have this morning calls my name in a loud loud voice, but i keep typing. i make mistakes but i keep typing.
but sometimes i don't. sometimes i write late at night across a blue legal pad, propped up in bed with the cat nestled next to me so close a breath wouldn't fit between us. sometimes the truth lives there, in the words i know no one else will see, in the anger of the day spilled across those late pages.
i pretend to myself that some day, when someone else is paying my bills, and there's no business overhead to worry about, that i will have rules. i will suddenly become a morning person, and i will sit at a desk, not cross legged on the couch with a laptop propped against my thighs, and i will drink tea instead of a coke, and i will begin to type as the sun begins to rise, and i won't stop until i have reached a predetermined word count. i will get it done and get on with my day. only then will i notice the sparrow tucked inside the tangle of wisteria branches, only then will i notice that the wind is up and leaves are flying.
i will have missed so much.
i have a thousand first lines saved, and,
because someone talked about the dangling star leaves,
i will tell you my secret.
i always always think of those first lines as buds on a tree of many stories.
they will grow.
and because it's a tree of many stories,
they will all grow at different times and speeds.
some require rainy days,
but some need drought.