Writing on the go

Traveled three hours this afternoon to Bataan, where I will hold a technical writing workshop in the next two days. I was the only passenger in a comfortable rental van.

The drive, though pleasant, wasn’t how I wanted to use my very limited me-time. So I got out my laptop and started writing. I got carsick–I often do–so I positioned my index fingers to find the trusty ridges on letters F and J, and wrote while looking out the window.

I didn’t care about errors and typos; I couldn’t, anyway. So I just wrote, the mobile equivalent of Julia Cameron’s morning pages–seat-of-my-pants and stream-of-consciousness writing. I unfettered my thoughts, undeterred by bumps in the road or in my mind.

I came out with so much. Especially a truth I had not recognized in something so familiar. As my mind leapt from my mother to my daughter to magic, I suddenly realized this:

Before Jesus miraculously multiplied a little boy’s lunch to feed 5,000, He first lifted up the boy’s lunch basket and thanked God. He gave thanks for two tiny fish and five pieces of bread before they amounted to anything.

Before we ask for more, perhaps we should first be grateful for what we have. How can we be entrusted with much when we cannot appreciate less?

The writing exercise underscores three things:

1. I should write. My memory is weak, and my thoughts are mercurial. I think of something one minute, and I’d lose it to the void the next. I need to tether my thoughts to the ground.

2. I can write anywhere.

3. I will be OK with first drafts (Anne Lamott calls them “shitty first drafts”). I will rewrite them later; the real writing is in the rewriting.

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