Saturday, November 23, 2013

Because Anne Lamott Said So

Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground - you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it's going to get. Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move. (Anne Lamott, excerpted from Bird By Bird)

I stumble into wakefulness. A refrain, left over from some dream I cannot catch, keeps time with my pulse. "What is grace?," I mutter, as I make my sleep-addled way to the bathroom. I repeat the question but cannot make sense of it in the clarifying morning light.


I've been writing online for years now. The first year I blogged I published new content every single day. And it was not hard. I marveled at the number of stories that had seemingly been waiting for just this moment in time, stories I didn't even know I could tell until I was telling them. 

It was only later that I ran out of stories. That inside my head was nothing more consequential than a grocery list and some loose change swaddled in lint, a reminder of having lived inside someone's pocket through several washings.

But this was my mistake, or my foolishness. I hadn't run out of stories at all. I had shared the stories I believed interesting, or pretty, or dramatic.

That left the messy, incomplete, and hard stories, but it still left stories. "Stories that no one but me would want to read," I scoffed. For saying which the Anne in my head, who may or may not be the real Anne, admonished me, "If you are a real writer, you will write what needs to be written, not what you think others want to read."

Grace is recognizing that I may write the messy, incomplete, and hard stories, and you will not care to read them. Grace is understanding that I might write a lifetime's worth of words and never see them published.

Grace is learning to find joy in the release of my thoughts no matter where or whether they land.

And so today's story is small but packs a punch:

I live (as in own a house, as in lay my head on a pillow each night, as in maintain a mailing address) on Grace Street. What irony, then, that I've been searching for grace everywhere but here, on Grace Street.


Magpie said...

Grace in small things, eh?

Love you.

Veronica said...

This is perfect (wait, IMPERFECT, LOL). Let me re-phrase: this is well-timed and appropros for me as I ponder the future of my blog and my writing life.

Nicole said...

I love this post, Sarah!

Mary Gilmour said...

Whatever kind of story - if you write it it is worth reading. Sometimes more than once.

alejna said...

This is wonderful. I will happily read what you write, with no expectation of tidiness.

As you may know, I live in clutter. Also, I live on Asylum Street.

amanda said...

It fascinates me how so often the people I associate with grace, so rarely see it in themselves. xo

Christine said...

I totally feel like I have run out of stories. But perhaps I am wrong. xo