Happy Poetry Friday!
There will be a short quiz...and a poem at the end for dessert.
For many years I went to meetings that helped me figure out how an artist goes about being an artist. Even though I had never been published, I told them that I was a children’s book writer. They believed me. Their belief in me helped me believe it. (For a while I wore a pinafore to those meetings. It made me look a little like
One of the most valuable moments of my writing career happened during a meeting. There were six of us that night: a sculptor, a screen writer, a painter, a violinist, an interior decorator, a muralist and me.
I said, “Everything in my life has a voice— work, family, volunteer activities, doctor appointments, pets. But my writing is mute. It doesn’t have anyone to lobby for it.”
The next day, the violinist telephoned. “I really need your help,” she said, sounding desperate. “Can you give me an hour?”
I groaned silently…but because she was a good friend, I began mentally re-arranging my day to fit her in. “Yes, of course I can,” I said.
“Good,” she said. “Because this is your writing speaking.” Then she hung up.
That phone call was a gift. It made me see how quickly I relinquish my own plans, and that I had no priorities—everything that came my way was of equal weight.
It took me years to figure out what's really important to me--where I want to spend my energy. So, today, what are my priorities? Health. Family. Writing. Everything else has to wait in line behind these. Do I honor them perfectly? Well...let's just say I like the motto "progress, not perfection."
And what about email? Eeek!
Remember when emails were amazing cotton candy cloud messages floating in the window? Now they seem like a never-ending pile of gooey noodles. What’s a writer to do?
I tried keeping track of how many in what category came in every week—but I kept stopping to read them or wander downstairs to get another diet soda (without aspartame)…
So for now, I remind myself that I never crossed my heart and promised I’d respond to every email. What's their priority it isn’t always mine, so…I delete.
But do you want to know the single action that helps me focus, laser-like on my writing? It's packing up my laptop and writing in a coffee house. It's funny--when I'm at home, I have to have complete silence in order to write, but in a coffee house, no matter what music is playing or what they’re talking about at the next table, I order herbal tea, put my head down, and write like a demon.
So...if you're trying to figure how how to make time to write, think about the following:
~ What are your top three priorities?
~ Do you act as if you once promised a fairy godmother that you'd respond to every single solitary email?
~ Leave the house.
And now for the quiz (answers below):
1) Do you need to dress like Alice In Wonderland in order to write for children?
2) If the phone rings, should you answer it?
3) Emails has six letters. What's another, related six-letter word?
4) When writing in a coffee house, what’s the most important thing to remember?
1) During the four-year apprenticeship, yes. After that it’s optional. (Extra points for men.)
2) Yes—it could be your writing calling.
4) Order herbal tea.
Speaking of tea, here’s today’s poem:
by April Halprin Wayland
Poem me, please!
Write me small things
to perch on this page:
cluster of birds
chirping hearts heard
wild feathered words.
Write me small things
to flavor this page:
thought squares you’ve found,
words tightly wound,
tea bags of sound.
Poem me, please!
© April Halprin Wayland
(It struck me funny to write a blog post about time management when I balked for so long about writing a blog because I had too much to do already. But to my amazement, this blog has fired me up because we have deadlines! And it's inspired poems! What a gift! Who would’ve guessed?)