It took moving to rural Nova Scotia for me to learn the power of going with the flow. The space to breathe, the place to write. The contentment of chickens and the happiness of humans. The bird's eye view of the weather from a writing room painted yellow. Dogs to walk, cats to cuddle. A companion who says, "You can do it". Letting go of control and going with the flow. But funny how it seems that flow has taken me away from what I love best.
The meditation of a morning walk.
I walked a dog every morning from the fall of 1996 to the fall of 2007. Once I moved to the country, however, one walk a day, let alone two, became more challenging without streetlights, without sidewalks. We managed three or four a week on the road or through the fields, even if we just walked to the mailbox several times. It was a habit I didn't want to give up.
Now I work four days a week, gone every morning by 8:15 am after doing yoga and feeding the pets and getting myself ready for the day. Mind racing: What to make for lunch, what to eat for supper, time to fill up with gas. With this blog and a Facebook page and a bi-weekly column, it seems as if I'm always thinking of what to write next yet I don't have that wonderful walking time time to let inspiration gurgle up from the depths. The daily and weekly To Do list keeps my mind occupied and only the absolute deadline of a 600-word column makes those thoughts a priority.
I miss the creative writing that comes after a quiet morning of walking, doing the chicken chores, drinking coffee, reading the paper, making the bed. The rituals that prepare my mind for a morning of writing. Rituals that were easy to establish when my part-time work schedule followed the school year.
And that's where my first sentence circles back in (I talk this way, too, much to my husband's frustration during a conversation).
When I first settled in here five years ago, I had two jobs of equal importance (but only the first was total passion): writing and substitute teaching. After a few years, with both jobs stalled at the same level, I said to the universe, "I will take whatever opportunities comes my way. Whether it is in teaching or in writing, I will take the opportunity when it presents itself." That was me letting go of my own control, of my belief that I have control over the plan for my life.
From that day forward, every opportunity that came my way was consistently about writing. In four years of subbing, I didn't even have an entire week stretch in the same classroom but almost immediately, I was accepted into the mentorship program of the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia, an experience that created the book that I am now hoping to publish.
Opportunities don't come much bigger than that. Or the one that came after deciding in May of 2011 to stop being a substitute: the job at the Oxford Journal leapt off the Classifieds page two weeks later.
At the same time, I continued my secret, silent wish to write full time. What I meant was write books full-time at home...and yet here I am, with that too-simple wish fulfilled. I am writing full-time: a column every week, be it In Conversation With... or Field Notes, something on this blog (and it feels good to be writing here today, just writing, just going with the flow of thoughts), or something on my Facebook page (building the foundation for the hoped-for career as a book author). So I've refined that now-not-so-secret wish or perhaps just taking it one step at a time: I want to write books full-time from home. That's the next step to work towards: Getting back to doing this every day, and each day beginning with a morning walk.
If thinking about it can make it happen, it will. Because I think about it all the time. I have my daily schedule down and I have four more books I'd like to write, including two novels. But that could be considered making plans, couldn't it? and I don't want to jinx the flow right now. Not when it's going so well.