I was a little way into my writing streak when I happened on a heron. I was out running. I hadn’t seen a heron for a while so I had to stop. In the past I’ve written about heron’s. What are you here for? I wondered. Why am I seeing you now? And yet, of course I knew. I didn’t get the message last time. I wasn’t ready. I had more hurdles to jump.
I see a lot of myself in the totem meaning of a heron.
It’s the resourcefulness and self reliance of the heron I’m drawn to. It’s the reason I think it continues to show up for me. Use what you’ve got. Adapt to your setting. Grow something new with this opportunity. It’s something I’ve done my entire life. But in this phase it’s been more of a struggle.
Writing here daily, my #writingstreak happened after I had a fall whilst out running. I wrote To Fall Or Not To Fall. Deep down I knew I hadn’t tried hard enough with writing this camino story of mine. And yet I didn’t feel ready or able to go back to the book.
It felt like too big a challenge to simply go back to writing the book. So I decided to write daily. Running daily had proven to be an excellent way to start something with running. Why not see where writing each day would take me? It could only be good!
The night I’d seen the heron I started to watch some YouTube videos about writing a memoir. Meh interesting but lots about plans, order and software. I like the idea of all of that, but it’s not me. I’d have to change too much. Then I happened on a video interview between Joanna Penn and Rachael Herron on how to draft you memoir.
This interview completely engaged me. Rachael basically says Just.Write.The.Book. Don’ edit, don’t stop, just get on with and write a draft. She talked about NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. The annual writing project where during the month of November people use the month to write a 50,000 novel. Yes, an entire novel. Each day 1,667 words.
Hmmm I thought. There’s something in this. I’d heard it before. Just write the darn thing.
Later that night I looked up Rachael’s website. It was then her surname dawned on me. Herron. Sure it had a double ‘r’ but still it’s not a stretch for me to find some synchronicity there. I signed up to her email subscriber lists and let her ideas sit with me.
That week I also received a comment on my blog from a writer whose blog I went on to read. I happened on this post of his. Write A Shitty First Draft. I Dare You. The penny was starting to drop.
“The only kind of writing is rewriting.”
― A Moveable Feast
I already had the structure, a plan. I blogged my camino. I already had the backstory behind it. I’d lived it. I’d even blogged that too! Those of you who have been around for a while remember Choosing Simplicity and The Gentle Intention? What I didn’t have was a first draft to start rewriting, or to call a book.
I continued to write daily. Through the easy days and the blocks. I kept my eyes open for little stories to tell. I tried different things. I learnt that I can write each day. I learnt there are stories everywhere and I realised how I write is how I write. I write non fiction and non ‘how to’s’. What I write is personal stories. This is my style. This is the style I find meaning in. It’s the style that flows from my dreamy world and into the keyboard through my fingers.
I am a memoirist.
I also learnt to not feel guilt or scared or ashamed of the time I give to writing, or of my writing. It became something normal I did. ‘Are you writing your blog’ the kids ask. They’d watch Bondi Rescue and I’d write. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes the afternoon. If time was short I’d shorten what I wrote but I still wrote. Everyday. Every day for 31 days. I’d notice errors after I’d posted. I’d correct them and move on. I’m sure it will happen today too. No confidence has been lost to mistakes. It’s all practice. It’s being unafraid to fall.
‘Let us risk the wildest places, Lest we go down in comfort, and despair.’ – Mary Oliver
To write for me is to take the risk into the wildest place. The risk of failure is far more attractive to me that the risk of comfort and despair. Except there is no failure. I am writing a book and let’s face it, the chances of it being published are next to slim. I am totally cool with that. I am writing the story because I want to write it. The story wants me to write it. I am prepared now. I have the skills to get the first draft written. Beyond that I’ll develop the skills required. I’m resourceful, I’m a heron. And dear heron I’m in the wildest place. Writing myself into adventures and creating a story from a story. To me there is no wilder place.