Years ago I participated in a writer’s workshop in Chicago.
The opportunity was a rare one – I had nothing but my laptop and my ideas and hundreds of writers who, like me, yearned for the solitude and inspired serenity such a weekend would afford.
The moment came, after hours of early morning sessions and talented speakers and quick breaks and an extended lunch, when we were all finally released to our own imaginations.
“Write!” we were told. “Write and write some more!”
The entire room of eager scribes hushed, ducked their heads and began scribbling furiously into their notebooks.
Suddenly, I felt as I did as a child, when every girl at the slumber party drifted off into a quick and peaceful sleep. Yet, I lay awake, wide-eyed and alone.
There I was – sans husband and kids and chores and phone calls – and I couldn’t think of one darn thing to write.
I doodled. I looked around. I cleared my voice and perched my glasses onto the tip of my nose for … why did I do that?
The words weren’t there. All those wonderful little writing nuggets I had collected throughout the weekend simply sat a pile of heavy, lifeless rocks.
When I arrived home, I fibbed a little. I told my husband and friends how inspired, how moved I was by the event. I may have even hinted at a notebook that was now chock-full of my own gleaming little writing gems.
It took just hours for my normal life to resume – baby slung on my hip, kids running in and out of the house, teasing and tattling, TV blaring, phone ringing, spaghetti pot burbling.
Then, without warning, they came.
They came and I rushed to my notebook and let the words spill over onto the page. It wasn’t pretty. It never is for me when I get started.
A serene environment – calm, quiet and peaceful –is certainly a must for some writers, but I’ve learned that for me, boisterous and messy and loud can be just as inspiring.