I listened to a radio interview of author Sonny Brewer on NPR the other day. I’d never heard of him before, but what particularly caught my attention was his new project called Don’t Quit Your Day Job, a compilation of 23 authors sharing their work experience prior to their writing success.
Coincidently, I myself recently googled, “how to write a novel,” thinking that maybe someday soon, I would write my novel idea that's been in my head for about 4 years now. There is wrinkled, used scratch paper in my desk, scribbled on napkins in my purse, and Word documents on my computer with random fragments for a half concocted novel. Every time I seriously consider beginning the writing process, I feel overwhelmed and totally lost as to how to go about it. After all, the publishing world is about as challenging and confusing as the music industry. One impossible thing at a time please.
I did hear a piece of advise in the interview however, that I’ll hang on to and use on days like today, when I haven’t really done much. It’s a lazy day. Not a lot of creativity running through me right now, but I’m staring at a blank, white box on BlogSpot, needing to post something for today’s magical moment. He said that if you’re drawing a blank, take a break. Go outside. Take a walk. Notice the trees, the birds, the weather, then come back inside and write about it because certainly, you’ll be able to portray some kind of truth in your writing since you’ve personally experienced it, even if it’s as small of a detail as describing the clouds.
So, Eddie, Joy, and I went for a short walk. Today the sky is dark and it had begun to sprinkle as we stepped outside. That didn’t keep Joy from frantically wagging her tail and yanking us ever forward towards the tree with the squirrels in it. Every time I go outside, I try to grab a handful of peanuts to throw to the squirrels and pigeons. Some neighbors despise this, others contribute to the critter feedings with their own stash of seeds or bread.
Today I thought I would see how close the squirrels would come to me and strategically threw a trail of peanuts landing only a few feet away from me. Some squirrels hastily grabbed the far ones and scurried back up to the safety of their tree. But one curious squirrel bravely inched his way to the closest peanut. Making him even more courageous, was knowing that Joy stood next to me, breathing hard, staring hungrily at the little creature, and being forced to stifle her urge to chase him. Growing more determined with every tiny, advancing step, the squirrel made one last mad dash for the peanut then followed his friends back up the tree. I wished I could reward his audaciousness with an extra peanut.
I got me thinking that maybe one of these days, I’ll bravely harness my nerve and compile all my illegible, chicken-scratch novel notes. I’ve already quit my day job. I’ve already dealt with my share of writers block. Yes, maybe I can put into practice this invaluable life lesson learned from a bushy-tailed, determined little squirrel. Until then, I’ll just keep writing cute stories about him.