A Simple Wish
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Good morning, friends.
This will be brief.
What I wish for you today is for you to solve one problem in your work. I want you to be able to knead it out like a tiny, bothersome knot in the back of your neck, until you arrive at a place of calm and understanding. I want it to come easily for you, if it can. Like some kind of simple morning prayer that answers a drifting but important question.
How do we do this? How do we get the answer we need? We take a long walk with only a small notebook in hand. We read the first page of a dozen favorite books. We listen to a few poems in a row, read to us in a soothing manner. We sit in the sunshine quietly with our eyes closed for ten minutes. Or with our eyes open. We let everything feel like jelly inside us for a brief period of time. We ask our smartest friend what they think, and we really listen to what they have to say, even if we don’t agree. Maybe we rewrite a paragraph a few times until it begins to look different. Maybe we rewrite it until it starts to look like an answer.
Sometimes the problem is just a completely blank page and all you need to do is fill it with something new. You can fill it with whatever you like. And then it will feel like you solved something.
However you need to solve your problem, I hope it happens for you today.
I want this for you because I want this for me. I am writing this new book now in earnest, and I have much to do on it, many problems to solve. I want to write 1000 words every day, starting today, through November 1 — which is my birthday. I will be 51. I want to solve a problem a day, every day. I need answers to a lot of questions.
This book does not need to be constructed from thin air — I have five years of thinking I have done on it already — but it does need to be organized, and it does need a beginning, middle, and end. It needs to have to have a dramatic arc of some kind. These are all problems.
Ten thousand words as a gift to myself. They will help me get some momentum on this book. The only way to finish something is to start it in the first place. I will see things more clearly at the end of these ten days.
I will walk, I will read, I will listen, I will sit quietly in the sunshine. And then I will write. I hope you’re with me out there for some of it.
Good luck. I’ll see you after my birthday.
You are reading Craft Talk, the home of #1000wordsofsummer and also a weekly newsletter about writing from Jami Attenberg. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I can, which are open to paid subscribers. You can subscribe here or give a gift subscription here. (If you are a teacher let me know, and I will give you a free subscription.) Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to various cultural, educational, and social justice organizations in New Orleans (and sometimes elsewhere). This week’s donation went to New Orleans Abortion Fund.