Two nights ago, I read Anne Lamott’s chapter in Why We Write About Ourselves.
I was inspired to write about it then and there (thank you, Anne) but I was too tired to do it (thanks for nothing, Meredith).
I convinced myself if I re-read the piece today, when I had planned to write, the inspiration would be the same. I even knew what I wanted my first two or three lines to be by just imagining what I’d think and feel after the second read.
The problem is, I didn’t write it down. I’d already decided to re-read the piece and just knew I’d be similarly inspired. And besides, what I wanted to say was so obvious. How could I not arrive at the same place again?
So that didn’t happen.
I don’t see anything wrong with what I have here. It’s just not about the thing I wanted it to be about.
That’s fine; it happens and maybe for the best. But it bums me out that instead of this piece being the result of feeling inspired by what I read, it feels more like the result of ignoring the inspiration I felt from what I read.
Plus, it’s missing that special something you feel and know is the closest thing a writer can get to magic. What I felt the other night when the words were flowing in one long string of feel-good “yes!”
Yesterday Patricia Arquette retweeted Seven Tips From F. Scott Fitzgerald on How to Write Fiction. Though this isn’t fiction, the first tip applies.
(Before I go on, I’m inclined to tell you I don’t make it a habit of giving retweet credit in my posts, but for some reason it feels appropriate, mostly because Patricia Arquette’s Twitter feed is so badass and deserves a shout-out.)
And back to F. Scott Fitzgerald:
“Put it down when you think of it. You may never capture it quite as vividly the second time.”
On the other end of the spectrum is Anne Lamott’s writing advice in Why We Write About Ourselves, echoed by X number of writers probably from the beginning of writing time:
“Don’t wait for inspiration.”
I get that. And I don’t wait. But come on!
When inspiration comes, like it did two nights ago, how about I drag my ass out of bed and write that shit down? Or, better yet, keep a notebook by my bed, “writer.” Or, at the very least, open the Notes in the phone I’m already holding in my hand and tap out those first 50 words that are the key to unlocking 500 more.