By Eileen Kalinowski | Posted June 1, 2007 | Updated November 11, 2019
Sometimes I don't feel very creative, or inspired, or even very smart.
There are tugs on my consciousness from work, from home, unresolved conflicts, questions that have no answers and will probably remain that way for some time. The very last thing that occurs to me in these times is to pick up my pen, or go to my piano, or start something new.
That's when the promise I make to myself to do a little something every day really comes in handy. This year, my little thing to do is free-write for 10 minutes with a timer to keep me honest every day. I can choose the time, seize the moment. It can be in my car, in the parking lot right before work, or under the covers in bed, right before lights out. It can be sitting in the waiting room in the dentist office, or sitting at my desk at work.
Ten minutes. One sixth of an hour. One one hundred and forty-fourth of a day, and yet, what a difference it can make. Sometimes, it's just a running log of what's on my mind in that moment — pretty silly, pretty petty, pretty boring to me.
But once in a while, there's a gem in that pile of dust, and it sparkles at me while I'm writing it down. Amazing. Ten minutes.
Last night, I was thinking –- again about how to tell my mother's story and weave it into mine. Her life was certainly woven into mine, and the stories she told me and the stories I'd heard told about her, have more than influenced me. They molded me, like a dress pattern does yards of fabric. Those stories gave me edges, and corners, and they stretched me sometimes into places that didn't really fit. How do I tell a story that had so much meaning in my life and make it understandable to someone else?
I started to write the usual, "I don't know what to say tonight," and all of a sudden, there appeared in my imagination a picture of me as a little girl, listening to Mom when I was 9 or 10. These were my fairy tale years. I watched Cinderella and The Wizard of Oz and hid behind the couch when the witch appeared. I was enthralled by the promise that one day my prince would come. Okay, so I was wrong, but in the writing I realized that my mom's real life tales came in on the same receiver as all those fairy tales. I couldn't take in anything so horrible, ugly and mean any other way.
Had I not sad down to write last night, the gift would not have been given. And it only took 10 minutes. If you had made a wager on whether anything worthwhile would have come through the page before I sat down, I wouldn't have taken the bet.
And once again, I would have been, blessedly, wrong.
©2007 Eileen Kalinowski. All rights reserved.
Next: Writing and Self-Doubt
Eileen Kalinowski sings, produces music, freelance writes, and is a member of the Taos Coalition to End Homelessness. ...
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