My Writing Process by Rose Ann Penney
Today’s column honors a beautiful poet I had the pleasure of meeting during my time with Eat Sleep Write. As I searched through my files looking for a topic, I rediscovered this post and remembered who wrote it. Rose Ann Penney, our Saturday Morning Poet, passed away around Christmas, but her words will live with us forever.
My Writing Process
I don’t know how you do it, but just when I am searching for more you come up with it!
I love the idea of this column and thank you for sharing your writing process. Coming to writing late in my life, it helps to know that I am not alone and not crazy about ignoring the rest of the family when I am in the zone. Ok, well, we can’t qualify the crazy part, but at least I have company.
My process began six years ago with a suggestion from a personal coach to read “The Artist’s Way” and specifically write the morning pages. I was not a writer at the time, but hoping to begin a career in designing hand knits, so I thought it odd. But I did it, every morning, for months on end, three pages, close the book, don’t look at them again.
Five 8.5”x11” journals later the words for that discovery are enlightening, cathartic, healing, joyful, empowering, deeply spiritual, and depressing in a discover-the-truth kind of way. They led to dozens of designs, some published, some self-published and some blogging on my design website for Knitting Harmony. They sustained me through a bout with breast cancer and working for a company with stress that I believe triggered the cancer.
I learned to write when it’s bad – get the words down, close the book. I learned to write when it’s funny – share it on Facebook, blog it and make the world laugh.
Seven months ago I realized I had to get out of my 14 year marriage and the muse appeared again, on a train travelling through the Cascades at night, surrounded by hillsides and towering pines covered with snow. I wrote about it in my poem from May 5, 2015, “My New Love.”
A voice said, “I need to write just this sentence down to remember it later. It’s pretty good.”
A second voice followed an hour later, and then another and another, and I have been lost to the real world ever since, drank the Kool-Aid, down-the-rabbit-hole, adrift-on-the sea. It’s all the same. I have to write.
The difference is that the Muse of Design was easily way-laid, put aside for whatever else was going on in my life. I didn’t “have” to design, I liked it, was fascinated by it, even loved it, but did not refuse invitations, forget to eat, and give up on lazy morning sleep-ins. My ‘real’ day job, housework, fun, and trying to make a marriage work, took over and designing ended up, not in the back seat, but barely hanging on to the rear bumper for dear life.
The Muse of Writing
The Muse of Writing is stronger and absolutely refuses to be ignored. I, a confirmed, dyed-in-the-wool night owl, wake up at four or five in the morning, take care of the cats, make my coffee and hide in the den with notebooks and computer. And the only reason I take care of the cats first is so that I will have some peace and quiet to write!
I rearranged my house, moving the piano out of the den to make a quiet place to write, with doors that closed. I have a just-right chair to sit up and type, and an over-stuffed leather one, to curl up in and contemplate or write with pen and notebook. And the view through lace curtains to my front porch swing always makes me sigh and relax.
Trying to find a way to organize it into my life, because I need my day job to pay the bills, I had a beautiful writing day and it began on a Saturday morning and went until mid-afternoon. Saturday Morning Poet was born. The challenge is that I wake up every morning excited and think, yay, it’s Saturday, and then my phone tells me, no it’s not.
Your prompts have been an invaluable gift. I make myself sit with each prompt just to see what happens. And oh the discoveries! I can write a vignette, even one about something that was not a personal experience. And I have discovered a book or three within me, a miracle in fact, because I didn’t even know I wanted to publish anything! It all started for the joy of it.
This is an incredible joy ride and perhaps because it is new I have found few days when I just can’t write. It often follows if I am too engrossed in reading other poets’ works, an exercise which can leave me unconfident in my own ability. I think maybe I should write about that, or maybe I should use this style, or maybe my works are too long or too short, or . . . .
So this is my place today. Open the gates wide at 5:00 on a Saturday morning and almost every morning as well. I find I do my best writing in the morning. If I write in the evening it can end up like that over-emotional response to your boss that you should just put in your draft file and never send.
About 8:00 AM I close the gates to a trickle and get to work, keeping a notebook handy just in case. Do you know how easy it is to use the voice recorder on your phone? Just pull over to the side of the road first.
Life is wonderful, my word for the week. Often over used, it is the perfect fit for me as each day is filled with wonder at all that is coming into my life. I am hoping to replace it with ‘just perfect’, which will happen when I figure out a way to get paid a salary for doing what I would gladly do for free.