I could write a thousand articles on “how to write” and I’d still only scratch the surface. That’s why, sometimes, the best thing I can offer you and your writing is inspiration.
As I spent these past several weeks putting together plans for my business, and my own writing, in the new year, I couldn’t help but be inspired by a word that started to reveal itself to me.
But it’s not a word you might normally pay attention to….
These are the first words in one of my favorite books on writing.
They belie the simplicity of writing, but they also state as concisely as possible what it takes to start writing.
When we write, the first words can be the hardest.
We put all the pressure on these first words because
But what we forget is that the “first words” we read are rarely if ever the first words we’ve written.
We all have to start somewhere—and you can only start from where you are.
But that’s the brilliance of life: where you are is always changing. It is the ever constant.
So when I started thinking about the year ahead, and the year that is now behind me, I thought about how we learn later why everything happened the way it did.
Initially, I couldn’t help but think about the cliche that hindsight is 2020. But instead of dismissing it, I decided to look closer at this old adage. Is it true?
Write from here...
I’m going into this year with optimism. Maybe as most of us do—but it’s not always the case.
A little over a decade ago, I started the new year thinking about moving back home with my parents because the recession had hit the newspaper business unapologetically hard (was it because we failed to report it?). But instead I ended up meeting my husband and starting this business.
Just two years ago, I experienced fear unlike any I had known as my due date (i.e., C-section) was approaching, and I had no idea what to expect of my new life and how the surgery would go or how I and my child would fare. Motherhood, it turns out, has taught me more about writing than I could have ever known.
But this year feels different. My family has been in a state of transition, it seems, for a few years now, and it culminated in a move to a new town, and now a new mortgage, and for me, a new business strategy and plans for my own publishing and poetry.
As I thought about the word “hindsight” and how it implies a greater understanding through looking behind us, I realized that’s not always true. When we look only behind us, we can’t see everything.
And as writers, I’m sure you’re aware of the fallibility of our memories.
What is more than just “hindsight” is “sight.” The ability to observe, watch, look around us. If we opened our eyes, what would we see?
And then there is the reality of what we can see from where we stand. Perspective.
It’s why I chose my word of the year…or, more so, how the word chose me:
My word of the year: "here"
I won’t take full credit for elevating the word “here” beyond its practical purposes. It’s been on my mind since I came across it several months ago during one of my Writing Saturdays.
It was one of those serendipitous mornings…
I headed out from my new home in Corvallis, to my new favorite writing spot, and found myself observing very acutely this sense of “here.” I studied the pavement beneath my feet, the rain as it fell on my umbrella, and the houses that were short and long.
Everything looked and felt different. Everywhere I turned was a new pivot on life.
It all seemed to fall into place.
And as I sat down to write, I found myself reading a dictionary entry about poets' favorite words, which led me to “here…”
Claudia Rankine offered “here” as her favorite word and said this about it:
“Even as this word stands still it gives itself over. Or, all positioning is an offering.”
I’ll be honest, I’m still wrapping my head around this. But I love it. It makes my head spin, and yet, it grounds me: “…all positioning is an offering.”
Everywhere we are is an opportunity. A change of perspective. A new understanding.
And what’s even better about this word is that it’s not just about being present. It’s about so much more.
“Here” is about being exactly where you are, understanding how we got here, and being deliberate in where you go.
It’s about knowing “here” is the only place that matters.
It’s about going for it, because now is all we have.
It’s about writing from where you are, because there’s nowhere else you can be.
It’s about putting the words on paper and letting them seep into the pages and into your mind and drift into the universe, where they will become even more powerful and understood.
It’s about starting, because your writing needs time to make itself known to you.
It’s about seeing the world as it is, as it was, and how it could be.
It’s about putting your ideas into action by picking up a pen.
It’s about not stopping yourself because you don’t feel like you’re ready.
It’s about writing what you know so you can learn what you never knew you always knew.
It’s about being here, now, in this place, and experiencing it. No matter what you write, you were here, and no one can take that away from you.
What if our words are the mark we leave behind in this world?
What would you write?
On the page.
What is your word of the year? Let me know in the comments, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you want to make time to write and make the most of your limited time for writing? Writing your book takes time, but it doesn't have to drag on for years. I'm holding my first-ever writing intensive in March to help you get started writing, find your focus, and work toward a finished draft.
And the only way to get invited is to be on my email list.