Freedom

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Writing doesn’t have to be so complicated.

It can just be me, lying here on a hammock beside the water, surrounded by sailboats. The sound of fish jumping. Clouds floating lazily across a blue sky. It can be this longleaf pine towering above me, tall and gangly, full of pine cones that threaten to drop on my head. This vine crawling up the trunk, circling round and round, its orange flowers lit up by the sun.

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How to beat writer’s block: Write about your failure to write

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Why can’t I write? I don’t understand it. I read books about writing, and then feel overcome with the desire to write. But later, I’ll do it later, when I have time, when I’m alone.

I’ve gotten up every day, for months now, and written my morning pages: three pages of stream of consciousness scribbling. I’ve gone on creative excursions and given myself precious time alone. I took a drawing class, to exercise some different artistic muscles. I did all 12 weeks of The Artist’s Way, including the awful one where I gave up reading, podcasts and television. I’ve laid every bit of groundwork I can, and then some. I am the person who wants to write a novel, but instead spends years building the perfect writing cottage in the backyard. I think my cottage is finished now. I have no excuses left.

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A walk in the woods

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Today I took myself for a walk in the forest.

As I walked, completely alone, the sun shone through the tender spring leaves, the wind rushed through the treetops, and the ferns, just unfurling their fronds for the year, lined my path.

A little way down the trail, a simple wooden bridge crossed over a small creek. I stopped at the end of it and sat down on the bank of the creek to watch and listen to the life of the forest.

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The words that changed (one week of) my life

I knit a whole hat!

I knit a whole hat!

As soon as I read the words, I wanted to slam the book shut, take it into the backyard, and burn it.

The book was The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, the cult classic about how to commune with your “Creator” and unblock your inner artist. I’m still not entirely convinced I have an inner artist, but the book was only 10 bucks on Amazon. Who knows, I thought, maybe it will finally inspire me to write my great American novel.

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Which would you rather do: Go back to middle school or fight a dragon with your bare hands? Dragon, right?

You want me to send this defenseless little child to middle school? Really?

You want me to send this defenseless little child to middle school? Really?

Last week, I was standing in the hallway of a middle school. I was part of a tour group, deciding where to send my daughter to 6th grade next year.

The bell rang and the empty halls filled with adolescent kids — slamming lockers, giggling, glowering, self-consciously fixing their hair. As they passed by me, I could see in a flash where each one fit into the social hierarchy. The girl with the long flowing ponytail, subtle makeup, and knee-high leather boots glowed with a golden aura as she led her followers down the corridor. The short chubby boy hurrying to class alone, wearing his pants pulled up too high — well, I said a little prayer for him.

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