Two years ago today, we had been back in Minneapolis for just exactly a month, and the Whole Foods Store I’d transferred here to help open was only, officially, four days old.
I already knew that I couldn’t stay at the store.
My job at Whole Foods in Franklin (the store on McEwan Drive, I still love them) had been a God-send. I was incredibly unhappy at my previous position, and WFM offered insurance, even for part-time employees. I was able to drop down, give Chris the freedom he needed to get his job done, help take care of the kids, and not be worried about the possibility of a medical bankruptcy if my cancer came back. And then it became so much more than I expected. I became a supervisor, I started looking into Whole Foods careers, it was awesome.
We got the opportunity to sell our house, something we’d been waiting years for, and I could transfer stores. I expected the amazingness of WFM to transfer with me.
The store here wasn’t bad, it was just different. I wasn’t used to the corporateness of the company, and I had a very hard time adjusting. Plus, Austin and Lily were not thriving in their new schools. When we got confirmation that we could buy health insurance through Obama Care (I could be a spokesperson for why Obama Care is really amazing) I put my notice in. I would be home more for the kids, and I would write. We pulled Austin out of the daycare that he didn’t like (and, quite honestly, I’m not sure how much they liked him) and switched Lily from a charter to our neighborhood school. I wrote a book, got accepted into the MFA program at Hamline, and, the next summer, wrote another book.
Tonight, I’m sitting in the cafe of a little restaurant, waiting to head over to hear the amazing Elizabeth Gilbert speak about creativity. I would have gone anyway, because I freaking love her, but I’m especially excited to hear her talk about this Big Magic. Because, quite honestly, right now, it doesn’t feel like magic.
I’ve taken a couple of freelance jobs (that I absolutely love) to help make ends meet, but they cut into my writing time. Today, I took the whole afternoon off as a type of extended “artist date.” My only goal was to do whatever I felt like doing.
All I wanted to do was write.
I’ve been writing, not counting this blog post, for about three hours.
I’ve written 2,000 words.
On a project I’ve been working on for 5 years.
I used to be able to do 2500 words an hour.
3 hours. 2,000 words.
I’m not trying to complain (although it is a little tempting.) Really, I’m just trying to put out there, before I go see Liz and she makes all right with the world– I’ve always thought creativity would get easier the longer I did it. That, eventually, the words would flow through my fingers, regardless of where I was or what I was doing. I would open the laptop and go.
This has not been my case. The book I’m working on now, the one I’ve been working on for SO LONG, feels SO IMPORTANT to me. I’ve read half a dozen books just to try to learn how to make this one right. This is like the twenty fourth draft, and, with it, I started over. It’s not from scratch, because I know these characters like they’re real people, but I started with a blank document. I have the outline I created from the last finished draft with the scenes that need to happen highlighted and the others crossed out. When I get really stuck, I look to see about where I am in the story and make sure I haven’t missed anything essential. But, in general, I’m writing this cold turkey.
But there’s something about this draft that feels different. Yes, it’s taking F.O.R.E.V.E.R., and I’m breaking every rule of “writing fast” and IT IS HARD EVERY SINGLE DAY, but I think, I hope, I pray, that what I’m creating is what I’ve been writing around for the last five years. That rather than skirting the perimeter, this time, I’m going to go straight through the middle.
Only time, a lot of it, apparently, will tell.