When the flamingo arrives

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When writing is alive and breathing, it’ll surprise you. The surprises–the elements that are both out of your control and the most uniquely yours—are markers of memorable work, and they’re what keep me returning to the page. Some days, I feel as though I set out a bird feeder expecting finches only to look out the window to I realize I’ve called in a flamingo.

I’m not saying I don’t plot and plan and outline and woo coherence. That’s a huge part of the job, whether I’m working on my own pieces or helping writers shape their work. But when the flamingo arrives, plans tend to change.

As participants in that famous “invisible guy in the gorilla suit” experiment can tell you, sometimes it’s hard even to see the incongruous element when it sets itself down amid your carefully constructed plans. To see it as a messenger, or a reason to turn your mind and work in a new direction, can be even harder.

I’m thinking about this menagerie (finches! flamingos! gorillas!) because I’ve been staring at the flamingo in my path for some time now, and paying attention to it will mean changing what I’m up to here.

What the flamingo said: The juice is in finishing

Since winter, I’ve been whispering encouragement in your direction. Writers are my tribe, and my intention with Let’s Write This has been to offer you what I’ve so often craved when writing feels like a battle or a test: a voice that says, “Keep going,” and “Small steps are significant,” and “Be easier on yourself,”  and especially this: “Pay deep attention to this moment, because it holds all the inspiration you need.” That’s my centered writer self speaking to yours.

My focus at the beginning was on how we can start writing again after stopping, and how we can persist when life seems to crowd out writing time. I wanted to think about how to put a writing practice in place and sustain it, and share that with you. But the flamingo that landed amid the tiny birds of persistence is a little bolder than that. It has the word “finish” written on its  side, maybe even in neon.

Now that I’ve noticed it, I can’t help but keep looking.

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Lately, many writers have been bringing me completed manuscripts–energetic first drafts—and we’ve been talking our way through them. As we look at what’s there, I also listen for the passion that’s so clear when we speak, but not yet on the page, the questions not yet asked or answered.

I listen especially for the music that may appear just once but feels like the true melody of the book. Noticing the music, noticing absences, spotting the flamingoes—that’s what we do. That’s what puts the work fully on the path to itself, which is the path not just to finishing but to realizing a vision.

Watch for changes here

So I’m going to spend some time closer to the finish line, and if you flip through the site, you’ll notice that I’m slowly spinning out an updated vision for Let’s Write This. I’ll share it with you in more detail soon. You may detect the outline of a bright orange feather or two.

In the meantime, while I’m thinking and dreaming, I won’t be updating weekly, but I’ll be cooking up something new. There are many posts meant to inspire you here. Especially if you tuned in late, I hope you’ll flip through.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. Here’s to all the writing you will do—and brilliant books and projects you’ll finish. If you’d like to talk one through with me, get in touch!We’ll reconvene again soon. Sign up for updates in the box below and I’ll keep you posted.

(Top flamingo image by wwarby, bottom image by BaronBrian, both via Flickr.)

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