I love posting this quote after yesterday's, because at first, they seem to disagree:
Yesterday I was thinking of sustainability, of making sure this day's work can lead to tomorrow's work. Building a groove. (I have my heart set on a groove right now.)
And this quote--I love the recklessness of it--says: drop it all right here, right now. Put it all down on that page. Spend everything.
For me, this gets at the generosity of a creator. Writing generously means, you don't hold back.
When I'm at my most generous, I'm ready to mine and use every single experience I can recall, stories I've heard through the years, characters I've met, dialogue I witnessed, my own most embarrassing or difficult moments.
I become the best-ever reference librarian of my own experiences, and I pore over my inner catalogues tirelessly; I am an A-1 pack rat, ready to bring my entire hoard out for the story's sake.
It's too easy to pull back from this. To be stingy, to write from the very top of the brain--that place where all the clichés hang out and make bad jokes.
Stinginess lurks in my bad time management, in a reluctance to sift through memories for the right details, or--especially lately--a stinginess of attention.
I've been focused on so many other things (because it was necessary, or because I let my brain wander Netflix or YouTube too long), and my story no longer gets the best of me.
That's the essence of this quote, I think. You give the story the best of you, every day.
When I really take Annie Dillard up on this, when I bring my entire imagination, all my words, to the writing desk and put it all down, I usually end up 1) very tired, 2) very happy, and 3) thrilled with the results.
The secret is: Your tank fills back up.
(This is where it works with yesterday's quote about running, by the way. This way of working actually is sustainable, even if it sounds like it would leave you wasted.) You just spent everything you had on the page? Then here's my formula for recovery: Give yourself a good night's rest, that good breakfast I mentioned yesterday, and maybe a nice little snack of some poetry or other well-seasoned words, and boom: the words will be there for you when you sit down again.
Even if you don't sense them when you flick on your computer or pull up your document or take out that legal pad. Even if you don't hear them when you find your pen or put your fingers over the keys.
Just start. And they'll show up.
This has happened for me over and over again.
I remember to be generous when I think about the results: the feeling I get when I read a piece of writing (mine or more often someone else's) where the writer put it all out there. Where they took the time to build a strong story, vibrant with details, shivering with conflict.
It's inspiring, those rich stories. I feel like I'm reading a gift. And it spurs me on to dig deeper in my own writing. To find everything that I have to give, and to put it all in my story.
One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away every time. -- Annie Dillard