Here is my second morning of getting up first thing and blogging — a new daily writing practice for me. Usually my daily writing practice looks like this: wake up, make some peppermint or ginger tea or some decaf coffee, grab my notebook (now edged with coffee stains after I put my coffee mug into my bag before it was entirely empty), light a candle (if it’s still dark; that’s mostly in the winter) and settle into one of three spaces in this new house: a corner of the couch, the straight-backed chair in the living room, or one of the decimated ironwork chairs out on the little patio that were left for us when we moved in. That last has been especially exciting since we moved from Oakland — given where we lived, right on Lakeshore, across from Lake Merritt, there wasn’t really space for me to sit outside my home and be in some quiet.
Here, though, I can sit out in the back, and maybe the baby next door is awake and I can hear hear shouts, how she’s testing her voice, how she’s learning the indelible strength of her lungs, and I can hold hope for her that she never has cause in her life to unlearn that knowledge, and maybe there are car doors now and again slamming shut as folks get in to go to work, or stop at the cafe across the street for their breakfast and coffee, and maybe I am up late enough that the guys across the street at the concrete place have opened their screechy roll-up door, have started shouting across to each other what is getting loaded up to go where, maybe one of the workers has rumbled up on his Harley, but otherwise, what I hear are birds. And there are moments of quiet in amid those. I hear the mourning doves and the jays, but more it’s the other birds, the quieter, songier ones, whose names I don’t know yet. Part of this writing, maybe, is an impetus to learn their names.
Mostly, over the last year or more, my daily writing practice has been just to write three pages, Julia Cameron’s “morning pages,” three pages, freehand and freewritten, filled with whatever free association comes to mind. A kind of post-dream-time core dump, just getting whatever wants to get out on the page, out onto the page. (often it’s relationship processing, a place to spin out whatever I’m struggling with just to take a closer look, or feel I’m getting a full hearing somewhere.) Sometimes I would feel like I was getting into some “useful” writing, like, writing I felt I’d be able to use elsewhere, in a blog post or review or workshop, but more often than not, those three morning pages were only useful for my crazy head, a place to get the rattling thoughts out. I like the ritual of it, and by that I mean regular practice, and a sense that inherent in that regular practice was some devotion to self and space. In those three pages, I could get spacious. (I could forget that, really, all I had time for was three pages, written fast fast, before I snapped the notebook closed, tossed it back at my shoulder bag, rinsed out my coffee cup (or, more often, took the still-undrunk coffee or tea with me into the bathroom), and started getting ready for my workday.)