Friday, March 1, 2013

Tea Kettle Cleaning


I’m at a writing retreat with two of my writing friends, Joy and Chris. Soon after settled in our retreat space, the lovely Anderson Center in Red Wing, Minnesota, Chris and Joy got right to work on their projects. If we had a retreat leader (we don’t, this is a self-led retreat), the leader would say that Chris and Joy are ideal retreat goers - hardworking, industrious, focused. If said teacher handed out grades Chris and Joy would get an A.
Anderson Center picture compliments of The Anderson Center, www.andersoncenter.org

I, on the other hand, would only get a B. But the B wouldn’t be for my writing. It would be for Tea Kettle Cleaning.

Because this is what happened to me when I settled into my room to write last night. I looked over three essays I started a while back and concluded that they are not worth editing or even looking at ever again. But then I realized that I haven’t written anything other than blog entries and content for a website project in about six months, so it made sense that writing seemed impossible, that I would think my stories were not worth working on.

So I went down to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Because I write best when I have a cup of tea. Hopeful that the cup of tea and new setting would inspire me, I brought my notebook and pen down to the kitchen. Maybe, I thought, since my essays were too bad to edit, I could at least start writing something new. 

But then I noticed that the tea kettle was terribly tarnished and dirty. So I took out the baking soda and a started cleaning the outside of the kettle. Sadly, even after considerable effort, it didn’t clean up to a nice shine - that’s why I only get a B in tea kettle cleaning - it is, however, much shinier than it was before. 

It’s possible that cleaning the tea kettle was simply my way of avoiding the hard work of writing. I would say that was true if I would have continued cleaning the house (I will admit I had to stop myself from dusting the radiator and arranging the spice cupboard). But it’s more likely that the act of cleaning the tea kettle was what I needed to get my physical self settled enough so I could engage my brain and write.

Because write I did. I wrote longhand until well past eleven in the evening. I got up and wrote more this morning. I even edited a bit of one of my too-bad-to-bother-with essays. They’ve totally taken on a new form and I’m a bit overwhelmed at where they are taking me. And now I’m kind of worried and am asking myself questions like, “Will you ever be able to finish anything, Myrna?” and “Why can’t you focus?” and, well, other not very helpful things.

Hmmm, maybe it’s time for me to clean the tea kettle a bit more and make it all shiny, try to get an A in Tea Kettle Cleaning this time.

Or maybe I just need to write through the worry and see what happens.

Here I go...

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