For some people sentences roll off the pen or the fingertips like magic, but if you’re like me, it goes something like this.
It begins with work to get yourself in a position to sit down and do the work. You must first complete all the other work that may distract you or is distracting you. When you’re done that work, you work on preparing a snack or a meal because you might get hungry while working. You will need energy to perform your work.
Now with no excuse but to sit down and begin writing, it becomes work to let the words flow. It takes much loving time. Like a large patchwork quilt project, you see the enormity of the task ahead but you begin. And all the time you fear. You fear you will run out of thread or get ahead of yourself and miss a stitch or poke your finger and bleed all over the place. But you persist. You work to persist. And you persist to work.
If you come to find you’ve worked hard enough to put forth the beginning work—putting the words on the page—well, then the real work begins. You have to make it make sense. You read it, re-read it, cut it, hack it to pieces, and put it back together—only the words and paragraphs are not perfectly pre-cut matching squares. But, with enough work, sections of varying length and colour will fit together seamlessly (which is nice because you do get to avoid all that sewing by hand).
After you decide it’s as good as it’s going to get, you need to find someone to read it. And that is work—because people are busy—and it’s work to ask people to help you because you’re used to just doing things by yourself. And when they say yes, it’s work to wait for their feedback because you’re so excited about the possibility that you might have created something pretty good. But then, and this is a good thing, if that person knows you well enough that they can be brutally honest, your finished work becomes unfinished. Your reader points out all the gaps, loose threads and stains in your material. And so you are put back to work and that’s okay because eventually you accept that it will never be perfect. The colours or pattern or size may not comfort everyone but you can wrap yourself up in it and call it your own, and rest.
But not for long. There is more work. You work on convincing yourself that your writing needs a bit of air, needs to unfurl and reveal its uniqueness, its significance. You tiptoe out through the grass, the bundle wrapped up in your anxious arms. Bit by bit, you pin it up there on the line and leave it…blowing in the breeze…in full view.
And then you work on hoping. Hoping that someone walks by and connects with it in some way. Sees it as beautiful. Sees it and thinks, hey, I’m going to work to make something beautiful and share it too.