Well, friends…we did it! Today is October 31st, which means Write 31 Days is complete. I have actually finished on time and without skipping a day, and if I’m 100% honest, I am proud of that.
So, to wrap up this month and this writing challenge, some thoughts:
On rough drafts and revision:
As much as I love writing and as much as I fight for writing time every week, it’s something I struggle to find time for on a daily basis. On top of that, I have wondered what to post here on the blog and if it even matters, sometimes forgetting that there is value in the creative practice and the discipline of hitting “publish,” regardless of who (if anyone) reads it.
I chose to write haiku this year because I wanted to do something different–low pressure, generally lighthearted, and a format that was generally unfamiliar to me. Like I said in my intro post, I’ve spent most of my life not even liking haiku. That’s changed now, as you might have expected.
Recently, I told some friends that writing a rough draft is my least favorite part of the writing process. I rarely know where I’m heading when I sit down to write; I just have a sense there may be something buried underneath the jumbled thoughts swirling in my head and write to sort it all out. The process is always worth it but not always fun at the onset–I’m usually left with paragraphs that don’t flow well, sentences that barely make sense, grammar errors to be fixed, and half-formed ideas that need fleshing out (or deleting entirely).
In a recent issue of her Slant Letter, editor Stephanie Smith wrote, “…the rough draft is where we are humbled, rankled, infuriated, and ultimately where we decide if we’ll allow Resistance to win this round or we’ll set our jaw and get back to work.” It can be downright painful. Most often, I squeak out a few crappy words or sentences, then stare at the screen or page blankly, click over to another tab, and repeat ad nauseam. Gaining momentum is hard. (I’ve been thinking a lot about how being a Type 9 contributes to this process, but that’s a rabbit trail for another day.)
Revision, on the other hand, I love. To look at a pile of nonsense and ask, “Where is this headed? What is the truth, here? What can I do to make this clear?” is where the craft and art lies. It’s fun to rearrange the paragraphs, to delete every extraneous “that” and “I think” and “very,” and to look for opportunities to weave in imagery or allusion.
These daily haiku were a good exercise for me because they required a complete reversal of my normal process. The precise structure meant rough drafts came quickly (lovely limitations), and the daily deadline meant there was little time for revision. It was an exercise in trusting the process and getting the words out quickly. I’m hoping that my writing process has been transformed for the better, but we’ll see how it plays out in the weeks and months to come.
Creativity Begets Creativity and Riding the Wave
Generally, I believe creativity begets more creativity. Of course, I have times when my creativity feels like a dry well and the muse is conspicuously absent, but more often, ideas seem to multiply when I’m writing every day. Creativity is not a finite resource because God is both creative and infinite. There is always more inspiration to be accessed. That’s the stage I’m in right now, and I hope I can push through all those terrible rough drafts to show something for it.
Motherhood, the Muse:
I listen to a lot of talk about creativity–podcasts, Twitter threads, newsletters, Instagram stories, books. (Remember those?) A frequent theme in these conversations is finding the time and energy for creative pursuits in the midst of our everyday, “normal” lives (as if creativity wasn’t a part of normal life). This conversation really ramps up around motherhood: How can we be creative and make art (in the traditional sense of the word) when so much of our time and energy is devoted to our children and our homes and maybe another full-time vocation? We talk about motherhood as though it is an obstacle to creativity, and we talk about “mommy bloggers” as though they are doing less important work than other writers in the world.
I’ve written quite a bit about motherhood ever since Ian was born, and with good reason. It only makes sense that the role of mom–which requires the vast majority of my time and energies–would be a thing I have a lot to say about. At the same time, I too have been guilty of thinking my motherhood is a barrier to a creative life. If only I had more time, more quiet, more energy, more more more.
These haiku were an exercise in declaring that motherhood is not, in fact, an obstacle to my creativity but instead, a muse. I am learning to fully integrate my creative life and my motherhood, and for that, I’m grateful.
On learning to dwell:
You might also remember that I set “dwell” as my word of the year for 2017, in part because I wanted to practice paying attention and being fully present in each moment with my children, rather than constantly thinking about where else I could be or what other more “productive” things I might be doing. These haiku have helped me search my everyday, commonplace moments of motherhood for all their riches and–again–for that, I am grateful.
Some other Write 31 Days series you might want to check out:
-My friend Rebekah is writing a series called 31 Days of Paying Attention, and I love it. Her posts are short but sweet and full of life’s small but meaningful moments.
-Emily is writing 31 Days of Redemptive Motherhood. She hasn’t written for the entire 31 days, but the posts that are there are wonderful. She is honestly sharing some of the challenges she’s faced in motherhood, while also sharing how she finds the hope and redemption Jesus offers us moms.
-Meal planning is a practice that I am not naturally good at, but that saves my sanity every single week. I was thrilled to find this series about meal planning, including several weekly meal plans WITH SHOPPING LISTS. Praise hands. I am scouring these posts for good recipes and meal planning wisdom. There is also this series of “family favorite recipes,” and I’ve found a few good ones there!
And finally, some housekeeping and new things coming:
-On November 8 and 9, Kindred Mom is publishing a 2-part piece I wrote about my journey with postpartum depression. This was a very challenging thing for me to write (for many reasons), but I’m proud to have written it, and I’m grateful that Kindred Mom has given me a platform for publishing it. I’ll link to it here when it goes live.
-Speaking of Kindred Mom, I’m going to be on the Kindred Mom podcast! Emily interviewed Rebekah and me about The Drafting Desk. We chatted about how it got started and our hopes for everyone who reads it. We also shared some of our favorite holiday traditions, because believe it or not…it’s that time of year, guys!
-And towards the end of the month, as I do almost every season, I’ll share what I learned this fall.
Ok, y’all. I think that’s a wrap. If you’d like to catch up all 31 days of haiku, you can find links to each post on this page. Thank you for journeying with me this month–for reading and for encouraging me along the way.