Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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Foggy LA Morning

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“There’s a fog upon LA,

And my friends have lost their way…”

‘Blue Jay Way’ – Words and music by George Harrison

We had a foggy morning in Los Angeles today. Not smog. Fog. Real dewy, low laying clouds.  LA gets a bad rap for its air quality, but things have improved in the last thirty years. Now when you can’t see beyond several yards, it’s a force of nature until the winds change and the sun burns through the mist.

If you’re a writer, you’re constantly dealing with the fog when you’re in the midst of writing a book, article, or blog. Nothing makes you want to bang your head against the desk more than handling the mist of nothingness clouding your once crystal clear vision.

bluejaywaygeorgeBut the problem with our own personal fog, is that we tend to create it ourselves.  I’m super guilty of blaming my brain for the brick wall of futility holding back those pearls of awesome dripping from my imagination onto the keyboard on a particular day (or a succession of days – even weeks). That blame game can be the root of one’s futility.  We put it there by saying, “I can’t write because I’m not a good writer,” or “Why bother when nobody is going to read or publish it anyway,” or “I have nothing to write about.”  Nothing can be further from the truth. Really. Drop kick those beliefs down the street into manhole.

It’s alright to go easy on ourselves and take a break from the daily grind of writing to fill up our shoe with some living. Sometimes we do run aground in creating those pearls of story from our brains. We’ve used up our well of ideas, and now it’s time to fill up our empty imagination with books, museums, movies, music, or just hanging with your friends and chill. Yet, when we have done all this, and blank brain prevails, you have to push through by ignoring the fog and letting your fingers do the work. Just say, screw it and blah blah blah your monitor screen until you get a thought.

I do it all the time. I’m not perfect. There’s self doubt, laziness, too many projects at work that sap my brain energy from focusing on the thing I love the most – writing and working on the foundation of my consulting business where I want to help others writers write. Nevertheless, I cannot succumb. I can take a break, but I have to keep my eyes on that glorious goal.

Don’t fall for the “nope, not feeling it” thing for too long. Remember, not feeling it is just part of the process. There will be days when you don’t really have the flow to produce useable work.  There are productive days and crap days. On the crap days, show up anyway. Screw the resistance that tries to put you in a place of frustration. Put down about 500 words of nothing until you start writing about the cup of coffee you had this morning, or how the chatty coffee clan who sit in front of the Coffee Bean everyday were noisy, or how they ignored your dog. Then suddenly, you’ve taken “a nothing day, and suddenly made it all seem worthwhile.” (I’ve been watching a lot of Mary Tyler Moore reruns). It will not only open up the fog, allowing you to see the light on where you need to go on your book, but it might be the germ of story you can write months from now, when the sky in your head is clear and bright.

But like the weather. Understand the clouds. Be the wind and the barometric pressure. Don’t be hard on yourself. Just try to allow positive thoughts to flow like cool, clear high pressure fronts. Even if you can’t do this, try to rise above negative or heavy thoughts and sit down to write. Write anything. Sometimes putting down 500 words of crappy thoughts will flourish into something awesome.

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Fall in Los Angeles

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You can find Autumn in Los Angeles. You just have to look for it. Amid the green trees and freshly layered sod, you can turn a corner and find an entire street lined with deciduous trees, turning brown and yellow, shedding leaves until winter hits and the entire avenue looks like something out of your east coast/mid-west suburban winter memory.  Then you can turn another corner to find palm trees and ficus trees growing like it’s summer time where barbeques are smoking and canon balls are splashing down in a pool.

Fall is my favorite time of year. The chill in the air, the early nights of deep, long shadows that create a lovely feeling in the brain. Nesting, holidays, baking – suddenly we’re seeing jack-o-lanterns and fake web on bushes, and Halloween candy in stores, and the excitement of the onset on Pumpkin Spice season – as touted in the latest Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer”.

This is the time of year when I miss New York the most. I envy my east coast friends who are relishing in the “mist and mellow fruitfulness” of the season back home. Yes, they are looking ahead to a tough, cold, snowy winter – but after two years of scarce rain, lack of clouds and no snow in SoCal – I would kill for one flake of snow. (Okay, maybe a light snowfall.)

I left the east coast for the west four years ago because of those horrible NY winters, and yes – my home state got socked with exceptionally bad storm fronts since I left town. But as one LA sunny day folds into another, as one week turns to month after month of no substantial rain, I find the constant state of nothingness in the climate almost deadening. The sun is blinding. The air dry.  The sky always blue – providing a surreal world of perfection to the point where another gorgeous sunny day is mockery. It’s  becoming scary. The ground and trees on the hiking trails at Griffith Park are bone-dry parched.  The smell of dry cedar and dust particles clog your nose and get down your throat. The heat index can rise up into the hundreds, burning the dry soil, baking what were once moist, water filled streams that used to bubble up from the mountains. Screenshot 2014-10-17 10.14.07The sweet, dry smell of heated wood makes you feel that one strike of a match could cause the whole forest to ignite.

Weather. How I miss you. I need the turmoil of a late day summer thunder drench. The soul needs to be fed with the mixture of season, the drudgery, and the welcoming beauty of all that waiting and freezing and dry sky – to find that warm spring ozone air breaking through on a March afternoon. The happiness caused when noticing a crocus poking out of the dark, barren earth. Turning around and seeing a forsythia bush flourishing yellow blooms within the dead brown branches and bark of winter – which is slowly, slowly turning into spring as the promise of green leaves, warm weather, shedding socks and boots for barefeet and flip flops becomes real. Then it’s wonderful, wondrous summer!  The season you’ve earned after shoveling snow and suffering frostbite from waiting at the train station.  Summer – when Sly and the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun in the Summertime” makes you weep for joy at the memory of summers past you can relieve in the splash of the pool and the incredible coconut smell of Coppertone.

You don’t get that in LA. It’s always nice – always pleasant. It gets chilly, and you can imagine for just a moment, being back home under the red leaves of an autumn maple tree. You can feel safe in the warm pocket of southern California sunshine when you hear the rest of the nation is buried under ten feet of snow. But one season folds into another – and you wonder if going back into the thick of winter blues may be worth it.

[written in a morning funk kind of stream of conscious kind of way so grammar be damned]