Today's words: prendre sa retraite
: to retire
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"You work too hard," my mom says. "You should retire."
Who? Me? Work too much? How could writing one or two posts a week make one a workaholic? Un bourreau de travail ?
*. *. *
Today marks three weeks away from my desk and it is beginning to show me something about the creative process:
Writing is 20 or 30 or 40 percent of the effort...
The other 60 or 70 or 80 percent is the "steam engine" behind the story: it is the words and sentences that file through your brain throughout the day and sometimes at night, no matter where you are--at home or away on vacation. What was the F. Scott Fitzgerald book in which two characters, a husband and wife, are at a dinner party and the wife looks over at the husband whose lips are moving as he stares at the ceiling?
"Darling! What are you doing?" She says.
I'm working! He snips.
The writing engine never stops completely (oh, the stories I've begun in my head since landing in the U.S. None have made it to the physical composition stage, and yet all of them have kept me occupied, or preoccupied).
I am not complaining about any of this, but want to highlight a little pépin, or glitch, about creation: It can slowly wear you down.
I realize Mom is right, and now it is a matter of tweaking (I need to tweak the way I live my writing life).
My friend Kirsten took me to The Tattered Cover Book Store in Littleton, where I spied a humble garden journal. I've spent this morning (now back at my sister, Heidi's) sipping coffee and sketching my yard back in France: the fruit trees, herbs, the pond...even the bees. My niece, Reagan, shared her coloring pencils and the activity became even more enjoyable and revealing...
I had thought my garden had gone to pot, but I now see many of the plants are surviving the neglect. It gives me hope and a goal for when I return to France next week. It is a simple plan, and here it is:
Water. Tend. Visit.
Water the plants and also the dreams you've forgotten. Lovingly tend the garden and the precious hours in your day. Visit the seedlings and other blooming things (new friendships, new interests).
I'm off now to spend time with my sister. We're going lunch together. Perhaps here in the beautiful botanical garden in Denver. It's a good place to dream and to rest before returning to my desk in La Ciotat. I have no plans to retire and, God-willing, will write until I'm ninety-five. More time to practice, to learn, and to share with you.
P.S. Here is a link to the garden journal I bought. It has inspiring quotes and prompts (see below) on the pages.
I also picked up a book called The Writers Practice: Building Confidence in your Nonfiction Writing, as reading about writing can be helpful...when you are away from the work.
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