You Are Here

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Is it the upcoming holiday?  Is that it?  Can I even get away with calling Labor Day Weekend a holiday??  Because … well … shit, I’m not getting much editing or rewriting or rethinking done this week.  I’m waking up at four every morning with first sentences I could kiss and ideas that need to be set down before they’re lost — somebody get me a piece of paper!  But that’s not the same as writing, now is it.  You know what I mean.  Notes are notes, notes are one-offs, and it makes no matter how fucking brilliant and fully formed they seem when you open your eyes in the dark and crave your special pen.  Notes don’t get the job done.

I went to bed the other night, spinning:  I’ve got the story.  I’ve got some damned clever first sentences and transitions and titles and crazy characters who talk up their conflict.  I’ve even got a structure that’s working.  Can’t I just wave my magic wand — Poof! — and whip out this book already?

I’ve been listening to Mary Karr on audio.  Yesterday I was walking the dogs and, literally, holding my breath while picking up poop in a pink baggie when I heard this jewel:

You are here.   ~ A mall directory.

So much for all the Baudelaire and Rilke epigraphs in her book, this is the one that got my attention.  When I went to bed last night, I read this before I turned off the light.  From Ann Patchett’s THE GETAWAY CAR:

It’s possible to let the thinking-about process become so complicated that the obvious answer gets lost.  I made a vow on the spot that for the month of January, I would dedicate a minimum of one hour a day to my chosen profession.  One hour a day for thirty-one days wasn’t asking so much, and I usually did more. …. Do you want to do this thing?  Sit down and do it.  Are you not writing?  Keep sitting there.  Does it not feel right?  Keep sitting there.

You are here.

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20 thoughts on “You Are Here

  1. Averil Dean

    I’ve been doing a lot of ‘just sitting there’. Finally, yesterday I had a breakthrough and the words started flowing, just when I thought they never would. I think you have to keep showing up and hope that eventually out of boredom the muse will give you something to do.

    1. Teri Post author

      I’m sitting here this morning. Working. Which means, it’s working. Why is this so hard to figure out?

  2. lisahgolden

    I don’t know why I don’t remember this about writing because the same thing applies no matter what I do. If I dive in, I’m fine. The work gets done. If I think about it, plan it, spend my energy up front? Nothing.

    1. Teri Post author

      Writing is exactly like dieting. I can read all the how-to’s I want, I can procrastinate and beat myself up about what I’m not doing right, but it always comes down to: Eat Less, Exercise More.

      Said the woman who hasn’t seen a vegetable all week….

  3. Jennine G.

    So right…sigh. I got so caught up in my ideas the second half of the summer I actually stopped writing. Hoping once my body adjusts to the work schedule again I’ll pick up the schedule and just do it instead of thinking about it.

    1. Teri Post author

      I hear you, Jennine. There’s nothing quite like the routine Fall to get the wheels rolling right again. Good luck to both of us!

      1. Teri Post author

        That just means it’s an especially big sigh. I understand that kind of sigh — it sometimes keeps me from cursing.

  4. Lyra

    Love this.
    “You are here” exactly where you should be this particular moment in time, not a moment from now but right, right now.
    The question that follows for me is, but am I doing what I’d like, want, need to be doing in this very brief “here” so that my future “here’s” more closely resemble where I’d like to be. How much control do we have over the “here”?

    1. Teri Post author

      You are “here” in the place of supporting your family of 5 (five!) to live in comfort and stability, and your children have a mother who encourages them to be exactly who they are. You and your “here” are gifts to your family.

  5. Josephine

    awww…thanks for the getaway car note. i need to read that again.

    i’m still floating, happy, wondering what’s coming next. this morning, i was all in a mess b/c i strongly dislike my hair and can’t seem to find a stylist that i want to see again.

    this hair thing is a “thing for me. i cut my hair almost daily. just a nip and tuck here and there. trim of a long bank, nipping the dead ends that hang to frame my face. my husband and i have fought over it. i hide when i do it (cut hair into dry sink, wet toilet paper to wipe hair from sink, flush down toilet, all behind closed bathroom door–see!!!???)

    anyway, this morning, i thought, “fuck it, i’m just getting it all cut off,” as i looked at it one more time in the rear view mirror before getting out of my car.

    and then i walked into my coffee shop and here was the quote on the chalk board behind the counter:
    “And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” Kahlil Gibran

    (more than one person has told me that Gibran was one of my dad’s favorite poets. i like that he even had a poet.)

    i’m not even sure what this quote has to do with your post. but there’s an mix for me somewhere in the middle—something about knowing when it’s time. being present. not being overly concerned with the distractions that keep you from writing. and being okay with the fact that maybe you need to spend an entire year staring at the sky and doing your best to breath before you can sit and do the work.

    alright, i need to stop rambling. happy writing.

      1. Teri Post author

        Agreed. Best ramble of the week. Wait, your dad had a favorite poet? That is so freaking cool.

        As to the cutting of the hair, I have a theory — which I apply only to myself. I cut and color my hair, and buy shoes, because I think all of the above have the potential of making me look either younger or like someone other than myself, someone far more interesting or glamorous or put-together or smarter or hipper or less like the soccer mom that I actually always, no matter what, end up still looking like. And because all of this can be done without losing weight or exercising or drinking less or eating better or being more disciplined which, I’m pretty sure, would be no fun at all if I ever bothered to try it.

        I see your ramble, and raise you 50 cents.

      2. Josephine

        i’m with you—shoes, hair (and i’ll take it as far as the perfectly shaped and colored handbag) can do wonders for the self esteem that reflects what we think we look like.

        that’s where my “hair” thing starts, but it’s like one of those sink-holes that will suck up an entire town. i begin by thinking, “if my hair looked like this, i would feel better about myself.” but then somewhere past sane i begin to attach really deep and dark shit to my hair. wake up after a nightmare, i want to cut hair. can’t fit into the jeans i just wore last week, cut hair. have a shitty, shitty, shitty day at work (year at work!?) spend the weekend cutting sections of my hair i can barely reach to curl.

        maybe it’s just because of this cantaloupe mess of a head from which it grows.

      3. Teri Post author

        Oh man. I think your process of dealing with stress is better than mine, cutting the curls and all. I tend to run at the cliff —- can’t fit into the pants from last month, have some pizza and pasta RIGHT NOW; sluggish from too much wine last night, have that first glass a little earlier tonight; tired of looking at the same old hair that does the same old thing, don’t wash it for a few days and keep the headband on (right now, in fact!) because if it’s not going to look decent anyway why waste that 12 minutes it takes to dry it.

        Something in me believes men don’t have these problems, nor these coping mechanisms. I feel so lucky.

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