AT MY ELBOW this morning is a shelf of 3-ring binders. Mostly white, one green. They’ve caught my eye. I’ve been writing from this spot for a few months now and today is the first time I’ve turned and noticed them. I snap a pic.
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I believe in writing about what’s closest, that to find what you need to write about, you don’t need to cast a wide net, but to pay attention to what’s right in front of you, right within reach, right there in your thoughts like a speed bump that needs to be gotten over every time you try to go anywhere.
Just a theory, that.
What’s close is like a boat. Step into it. See where it takes you.
As for the notebooks, they’ve been there all along. I’ve ignored them as best I could because I think I know what’s in them. Training materials from classes taught. Classes at Nabisco. Classes at writer’s conferences. Study groups I’ve lead. Notes from graduate classes. Printouts of half-written manuscripts. Just a bunch of “I Used to” stuff.
I’ve heard them laughing at me from the bottom shelf of the bookcase my father made for me as a wedding gift. (Is this what Daddy intended, that I use it to hold things that make me feel bad?)
They need straightening, to be stood upright again, to LOOK right. Is that why I noticed them today? Appearances?
A spring bird sings outside my window. A new song. An excuse to walk away from the notebooks (again) and over to the window to look. But I don’t.
They seem different to me today for some reason. They seem not to be laughing at me, but to be waiting for me, these reminders, not of things I no longer do, but something else.
These are things that once meant something to you. Why? And what do they have to do with today? Go find the answer to that.
Something has been lifted from me recently and, whatever it is, it’s departure has allowed me to hear with new ears. A new song.
All this from a glance at some disheveled notebooks.
What’s close to you?
One of the biggest creative mistakes I see writers make is to look far and wide, searching to know what is popular and desired by many, then go try to provide that rather than being still and observing what’s been put close.