I have arrived at the end of a long road. After three and a half years of writing, I have handed in my manuscript. The book will be out in February 2014 and after things are finalized, I’ll tell you all about it.
But in the meantime, fatigue is on me like a shadow.
I find myself floundering and heavy-lidded in my days since handing in the book. For a long time, I would get up and fulfill the usual routine of: 1) Make traction in manuscript; 2) Fulfill orders for Paris Letters; 3) Explore Paris, see friends and hang out with Christophe. The book took up a lot of my brain space and now without it, that part of my brain is looking at me saying Now What?
Now What, indeed.
I worked hard over the last few months. It was all chapters and letters and canceled plans and fatigue, but it was okay because I knew these days that I’m currently in were on the horizon. These days, when I could go to museums and wander aimlessly and blog and and and and… and evidently sleep a lot and sit inside this weirdness. I know rest is important. It’s just not my skill set. It usually feels like the common cold. The only reason to get out of bed is because my coffee addiction is stronger than my fatigue. As I sip coffee, my Inner Drill Sergeant starts laying into me, “Hop to it corporal! One Two Three Four, Get your behind out the door.” Yes, explore. Right. Later. Maybe next week. Just not now.
But sitting in this weirdness is new and slightly uncomfortable, which is why having a practice helps. For the last three and a half years, my morning pages have been my practice. According to Julia Cameron who coined the term in The Artist’s Way, “Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, morning writing about anything. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages, and they are for your eyes only. Doing Morning Pages, we find that we go into our day with more clarity. Although they do take time (about 30-40 minutes), they actually make more time than they take because we move more efficiently through our day.”
Morning pages are still in the quotidian of my day and I can’t imagine life without my journal by my side. I have used these three pages to ground, offload, dream and plan. (For newbie blog readers: I started The Artist’s Way morning pages at the beginning of 2010 and never really stopped. It led to leaving my advertising career, traveling and landing in Paris into the arms of the lovely Christophe.) My pages are now as incorporated into who I am as brushing my teeth.
I suppose I could floss more.
Up until recently, I needed my morning pages largely for planning my escape from corporate life and as the blueprint for my book.
Now I need morning pages because they are somewhere to be.
Don’t know what to do with myself? I head to my pages simply because it’s part of the routine, and inside the writing I figure it out. It’s brilliant!
Life can feel unstable without a practice, whether it be yoga, doing the rosary, going for a walk or even calling your mother. We need that certain quiet loveliness each day that reminds us of who we are behind the roles we play in the world.
Before writing daily in a journal, I was a full on flounderer. I was so full on with my floundering that I didn’t even realize it. I was just getting through my days, paying my bills, and trying to figure out the rest as I went along. There was no time left over for dreaming.
I wanted my days to look like the Table of Contents of a woman’s magazine: Health, Career, Decor, Love, Cuisine. I bought into the belief that to do a little from each category each day meant that I would be a high-functioning human being, which meant I would a happy human being. But at the end of each day, I checked off Health and Career. The rest? When?
The morning pages helped me figure out how to fit in the rest.
I learned that in order to fit in something, something else had to be eliminated. We fill our days. It’s what we do. Then we worship at the altar of Tired and Busy. Our resting face becomes a grimace and the highlight of our day becomes the good parking spot we scored. So I had to ask myself that if I wanted to fit in a letter writing business and a book, what would I have to stop doing to make that happen? The morning pages helped me see where I could shave off time and contort my life to fit my dreams rather than try to fit my dreams into my life.
And now, at the end of this current chapter, I am in the market for a new project or practice, lest life becomes a long to-do list as I learned that if I don’t fill my days, others will. I didn’t do this life to have it become one long errand. And I know I’ll figure out my next steps because my first step will be to figure it out in my morning pages.