The Right to Write

Drama is poison to the creative. It spoils the writer’s emotional landscape instantly. In seconds, we’re off the page and into the heat of drama happening outside of our inner worlds.  I know. I am knee deep in drama this week. Life, it happens.  What are your choices?  Get sucked in or stay focused on the page?

My drama swirled round and round me. It pulled me away from my desk, my pages, and my commitment to write.  I felt myself slipping, giving in to the need to right side my upside down world.  Your writing, a voice in my head said, can wait. Fix it.  Huh? No way, did I just say that to myself?

Truthfully, there was nothing for me to fix. My drama isn’t apocalyptic. It’s big, uncontrollable, often unyielding, but always and ever beautiful, Technicolor, life.  Instead of giving into it, I tore a page out of Julia Cameron’s book, The Right to Write, and made a list of one hundred things I love.  At the end of an hour, my focus returned and my head was  back in the game.  My drama, it’s still there swirling around.  I closed the door on it and went back to work.

One hundred things I personally love: 

  1. Tulips
  2. Willie Nelson’s rendition of “Always On My Mind”
  3. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
  4. The color pink – all varieties
  5. Bookstores
  6. My IPod – and the 7,000 songs on it
  7. Edna St. Vincent Millay
  8. The night before a vacation starts
  9. Watching the endings of my favorite movies – just so I can cry
  10. “Anna and The King” – at the very end when the son watches his father dance with Anna and realizing his father has fallen in love for the last time, but also understanding, it’s a love he can never have. 
  11. An email from an editor telling me my submission has been accepted for publication
  12.  My functionally insane, but loveable, family
  13.  Comments on a blog posting
  14.  The perfect opening sentence
  15.  Scented lotions
  16.  An unexpected gift from the Universe
  17.  Gardenias
  18.  Kindness
  19.  Cold Pizza for breakfast
  20.  The sound of children laughing
  21.  The whisper of possibility
  22.  Hellos and sometimes, but not often, goodbyes
  23.  The three paintings hanging on the walls in my bedroom
  24.  My friend Stuart
  25.  Roasted vegetables
  26.  My Parker Starlight Fountain pen
  27.  Brandi Carlile’s song, “Looking Out”
  28.  Sitting in backyard of my Mom’s house drinking wine and listening to music
  29.  Full fat cheeses generously spread atop crusty bread
  30.  Crisp apples and Oranges, fat, juicy ones
  31.  Full bodied Chardonnay
  32.  The line from “The Last Samurai” when Tom Cruise’s character says, “Ask me how he lived…”
  33.  The fog rolling into or out of the San Francisco Bay
  34.   Me
  35.  The way he made my heart soar
  36.  Rainy afternoons
  37.  My sister’s cooking
  38.  The lines across my face
  39.  My own company
  40.  Avila Beach
  41.  The worlds I create on the page
  42.  Live renditions of a studio produced song
  43.  The first page of a new journal
  44.  Guitar rifts that lead into a favorite song
  45.  “Shrek and Monsters, Inc.”, equally
  46.  Patsy Cline any time of the day
  47.  Liner notes
  48.  The scent of honeysuckle
  49.  The Hollywood Sign
  50.  New beginnings
  51.  Pirates of the Caribbean – the ride
  52.  My MacBook Air
  53.  Spell check
  54.  Sephora
  55.  The way my body feels after working out
  56.  Love and heartache, equally
  57.  Driving down Highway One – California
  58.  “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by the Eagles
  59.  The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
  60.  Come-hither, expression and experience, equally
  61.  Going to the movies – watching movies at home, equally
  62.  Breathing
  63.  My freedom
  64.  His kiss
  65.  Individuality
  66.  The Right to Write by Julia Cameron
  67.  Stationary
  68.  Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn
  69.  Reading and listening to music, equally and individually
  70.  Reckless abandonment (heat of the moment and no turning back)
  71.  Taking chances even when the odds are stacked against me
  72.  Crying for all reasons
  73.  Friends for all seasons
  74.  A spring fling
  75.  The wine bar by Charring Cross Station
  76.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium
  77.  James Bond, all editions
  78.  Both action and chick flicks, equally and individually
  79.  SciFi/Fantasy
  80.  Brilliant remarks
  81.  Wit
  82.  Honesty
  83.  WiFI
  84.  Room service
  85.  My past
  86.  The Thesaurus
  87.  Barcelona
  88.  The sunsets over the Pacific
  89.  Cover songs
  90.  The drive from San Francisco to Santa Fe, NM
  91.  Green Chili Stew
  92.  Passionate Pursuits
  93.  Meeting other writers – and finding out being weird is acceptable behavior
  94.  Rendezvous with mysterious characters
  95.  My bedroom
  96.  Walking barefoot at the edge of any ocean
  97.  The full moon
  98.  Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies
  99.  Music, for all occasions

100.  But mostly what I love, is the mystery of life and they way she continues to enthrall me. I never know what’s around the next corner. How about you, what do you love?


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I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

37 thoughts on “The Right to Write

  1. rimly

    Brenda the entire list reflects how spirited and full of life you are! And ignoring all the drama to continue writing shows how focused and dedicated a writer you are! Always a pleasure reading your posts, my friend.

  2. Drama also gives you good material for writing. 😉 I completely agree with you, Brenda. Life is a mystery and that’s a good thing. It would be really boring to know what’s going to happen all the time. Oh, and so many things on your list are on mine, too. We definitely need to meet up for a glass of wine one day.
    Kelly Hashway recently posted….Bathrooms Make Great SettingsMy Profile

  3. A gorgeous list. I want to be best friends. Your life is full of passionate pursuits. I am so glad you included yourself on that list. We are soul sister by many of the things on list, my dear! It is uplifting my spirit just to think of good things out there and how many there are!
    It is a great excersize!

    • Thanks, Jodi. It’s a life in motion ever changing. I sometimes love it, embrace it, and other times I wonder if maybe I should be some place other than where I am or if I took a wrong turn. The conflict keeps me moving forward, so not a bad thing.

  4. Love this post! Makes me crave some crackers with cheese and wine. Even if it’s alone in my backyard!

    I veer too much towards the dramatic. I let everything suck me in. Easily distracted and all that. Maintaining focus has always been one of my biggest issues. I have a million half unfinished projects I can’t seem to get myself to finish.

    It’s the whole boundary issue. I let issues and other people throw me out of my groove. Trying to get better at it!

    I have a J. Cameron book but haven’t yet read it. Funny enough, was thinking about using her stuff as a writing motivator. Lord knows right now I need it!

    • Jennifer – your Latin, as I am, it’s in our nature to flourish in the drama, which for me is counterproductive as a writer. Since taking up the craft I am highly protective of my writing and space. It helps that I am comfortable being on my own.. not quite an introvert, but close enough. Given the changes in your life right now, I recommend Cameron. She’s the queen of discipline.

  5. I love falling in love – with a painting, a brilliant author, with a restaurant, with a park, with a movie or TV show. And oh, yes, with a man. Yes, yes, yesss!

    I love curling up in a warm afghan, watching the rain and eating cinnamon toast.

    I love getting really sweaty and dirty – on a hike, on a clean-up project – and then taking a long, cleansing shower, the incredible feeling of being CLEAN.

    I love when a man brushes my hair.

    I love the homecoming feeling of seeing good friends again after life kept getting in the way of getting together.

    Oh, and I love reading your blog. :-)
    Beverly Diehl recently posted….Purging the Dreaded File CabinetMy Profile

    • Bev – there isn’t anything quite like falling in love. I’d like to hunker down and stay there for almost ever, but it’s not the way love works, still it’s the best ever state of being and mind. You and Astra gave me the lift I needed. It’s been a long haul. Thanks kindly, always. xxoo

  6. I loved your list, Brenda, and that it was borne of a need to put focus back where it has derailed. Sometimes, like Kelly, I write quickly about the ‘drama’ to get it out of my head and stored somewhere else.
    I love <3 those soothing few moments just before you fall asleep but you haven't quite yet … and you're fully conscious of your body winding down faster than perhaps your mind.
    I love <3 folding baby clothes (but not teenagers' clothes).
    I love <3 reading … and like Beverly … I love <3 reading your work :)
    Astra recently posted….My Weekend Warrior Recovery: Plan BMy Profile

    • Astra, you flatter me and I LOVE IT. Thanks much. Baby clothes, oh yes, teenagers, not so much. I am too easily wooed by my drama so writing about isn’t a cure all. We all have our best practices.

  7. Your list is a sneak inside of you, what makes you tick, inspires and motivates. Wonderful read. I think this is a great exercise, maybe especially because amidst drama, chaos, turmoil, or despair, writing down the 100 things you love has got to make you smile—with anticipation, with nostalgia, with pride, with contentment.

    I write longhand. I love opening up a brand new, cheap ass, black and white composition book from Rite Aid for $1.99.

    Thanks, Brenda! I’m off to write my other 99 loves.
    Kat Ward recently posted….NW by Zadie SmithMy Profile

    • Kat, I suppose it is. My inner self is not revealed. I like the idea of writing long hang but since my writing sucks I rarely as in almost never go that route. I do make list and notes when I am writing a story but that about it. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Oh, I love your list of loves, Brenda! You have inspired me to do the same exercise – such a list also reminds of how much we are to be thankful for. And, I especially liked #100 – ah! The mystery of life and how it unfolds most unexpectedly and joyfully!
    Blessings, my friend!
    Martha Orlando recently posted….“Go Down, Moses!”My Profile

  9. What a lovely list – so fun and sensual to read through. I’ve been listing 5 things every day that I’m grateful for – I know, it’s so common these days – probably since Oprah started and touted keeping gratitude journals – but it’s been a good exercise for me as I’ve been struggling lately with some personal issues, to remind myself of all that I have to be grateful for.

    Just reading your list was uplifting. As was the reminder of how easy it is to be pulled away from our writing.
    Barbara recently posted….Your Aging VoiceMy Profile

    • Barbara – smiles! I’ve heard from others who compose this list. It doesn’t matter if it’s common so long as it makes you stop to think. I urge you to continue writing.. you will work through it.

  10. Brenda, I find drama inspires me. I don’t see it as a detractor, but instead, I see it as propulsive. Sometimes it helps me embellish, elaborate, and create stories around it, about it, or what I call “in spite of.” That said, I know that for many people drama can get in the way of the creative process. I loved that you found a way to leash it and divert your thought process to something positive! :)

  11. Pingback: 100 Things I Love (and social media isn't one of them)

  12. Brenda, what a fun post/challenge. You had me thinking of my 100, though I’m not sure I could top this list. I found myself agreeing with much of it, including bookstores, Cary Grant, my iPhone playlist, pink…I could go on!
    monicastangledweb recently posted….The Egg and IMy Profile

  13. B., I understand how real-life drama can tear us from our writing. An advice from your Julia Cameron that I always keep in mind is to ‘leave the drama on the page.’ Truthfully, I’ve been kept away from my WIP lately, too. And the guilt of it is dragging me further down. Time to leave the drama on the page. Love your list of 100 things. :)
    Claudine G. recently posted….A Bookish Kind of BrightnessMy Profile

    • C-I like that I found this book at this time. I wasn’t lost and I have been writing, but something wasn’t connecting. In the end it wasn’t anything other than reading her words that reaffirmed what I already new. It’s always a treat stumbling on something unexpected, as I did with this book.

  14. Jan

    Oh I love it. I have been recently assigned to write a gratitude list in the mornings for this very reason. out of the muck and mire and remember the gifts.

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