Fourth Thought of the Day

This feels a little manic.  I probably shouldn't be trying to write again today.  Three posts in a day is more than enough.  But I have found yet another twenty minutes that I never knew I had, so here I am, writing again.

It's like finding a treasure in your sofa when all you thought there was was loose change.  Suddenly, I have all the time in the world for writing.  More than enough.  An abundance!  I am overflowing with time, just like the Virgin Mary overflowing with graces.  It is as if I have stepped into a whole other life, one in which there is actually enough time to do everything I ever dreamed I might want to do.

And then some.  I have not only written three (and counting) blog posts today.  I have walked into campus with the Dragon Baby (i.e. exercised--she walks fast on those little legs!  Especially when we go past the vet's).  I have spent two and half (or thereabouts) hours finishing preparing for class.  I have taught class.  I have held office hours.  I have walked home with the Dragon Baby (more exercise--it's nearly two miles each way).  I have spent an hour just niggling around, talking with my son, playing Words With Friends.  And I have gone to a two-hour vestry meeting.  And there was still time to write.

It's a miracle!  (How appropriate that today's class was on miracles of the Virgin!)  Indeed, it is exactly the kind of miracle that Mary works for her devotees.  Like the tumbler who worried that he didn't know how to say Mass or the Office but offered her instead the devotion of his tumbling.  Suddenly, that which seemed impossible becomes possible.  The vase which was empty is filled, the time that did not exist becomes available.  Simply by stepping into it.  Simply by having faith.

I can't sustain it, I know I can't.  Prof. Boice warns against this very experience, of fluency tipping over into hypomania.  The blocked waters becoming a raging torrent that sweeps everything away.  And then you wake up in a heap of papers, wondering where the evening went.  Or find yourself trying to type even though you can barely keep your eyes open.

But I don't want to stop (another of Prof. Boice's rules for comfort and fluency: "Stop!"†).  I had a moment yesterday, after blog post two or three, of looking at myself in the mirror and seeing, just for an instant, a writer.  An actual, honest-to-goodness writer.  Because there I was, having written something that day other than notes for class.  Other than a letter of reference or comments on my students' papers.  I had written something that I needed to say for myself, in time I never thought I had.

I need to keep reading How Writers Journey, give myself the chance to pause.  But now that I've felt what it tastes like to write for twenty minutes rather than idly surfing the web, it's better than the best chocolate I've ever tasted.  Better than chocolate chip cookies or ice cream.  Better than caramel-covered popcorn or cinnamon buns.  Because it's meat, not just sweets.

In his words (pp. 237-38): "Rule #5: Learning to stop is as important as managing to start writing.  Why?  Because when we continue onto fatigue we do superficial work.  And because, when we go on too long, we tend, sooner or later, to impatience and rushing.  While great marathon sessions of writing have the appeal of euphoria and quick completion, they carry risks of nonreflective work and depressive aftereffects....  Wise practice amounts to wise passiveness [not just activity]."


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