Once upon a time (because that’s how a good old-fashioned fairy tale ought to begin) there was a storyteller, her thoughts filled with dreams, who sought to weave mythical spells with her writing. Angels and bright magical crystals gleamed in sunlit corners of imaginary tiled courtyards with lovely red rose-bedecked lattices, almost (but not quite) close enough to touch.

Though our heroine ventured bravely forth in her quest to bring these delightful wonders to life on the page, she always encountered obstacles in her path (as one might expect, of course, in a fairy-tale quest). The balmy summer breezes proved just too inviting after a long, bitterly cold winter. The garden beckoned, urging her to spend more time with its fragrant heaps of flowers and its overgrown bushes in need of trimming (to be honest, she’d neglected them longer than she cared to admit). Picnics and other outdoor activities filled her calendar. The Fourth of July fireworks came and went. Our guilty heroine realized she hadn’t written any stories in months.

“This just won’t do,” she told herself reproachfully. “My characters are depending on me to bring them to life!”

So she took a pen and paper (as she was an old-fashioned storyteller) and sat down to compose a story on a gloriously sunny Wednesday afternoon. She had plenty of ideas for fanciful tales she wanted to write. But she just couldn’t manage to get them down on the paper—when she tried, all that came to mind was how few clouds there were in the gorgeous blue sky, how lovely the birds sounded singing outside the window, and how much she’d really rather be outside too.

“Well,” she finally said, posting these meager paragraphs on her blog later that evening, “it’s a start, anyway.”

July 6, 2014 · 4 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Before we kept our appointment calendars on our phones and computers, my husband and I had Day-Timer daily planners with calendars made of that antiquated substance, paper. Even after we stopped buying the calendars, we didn’t throw away the pretty leather covers because we liked them so well. So they just sat in our study for years, at the back of a shelf, until I found them last week.

Day-Timer daily planners from 2001 

The one with brown leather, open to February 2001, was my husband’s planner. The burgundy was mine. After taking this photo for my post, I was going to throw them away, but still hadn’t quite convinced myself to do the deed. After all, some people still have daily planners with paper calendars—they’re not totally obsolete. And maybe there was some other possible use for them. I had to give myself a stern lecture on not rationalizing my clutter before I could bring myself to dispose of them. Technology has been advancing so quickly that sometimes we just have to get rid of old stuff, even though it is not worn out, because it lacks the usefulness it once had.

About Clutter Comedy: Every Sunday (which I envision as a day of rest after a productive week of de-cluttering) I post a Clutter Comedy article describing my most memorable clutter discovery of the week. Other bloggers who wish to join in are welcome—just post a link in the comments! There’s no need to publish any “before” photos of your clutter, if they are too embarrassing. The idea is simply to get motivated to clean it up, while having a bit of fun too!

Once upon a time, when I was a little girl in a world that felt like it was made of stories, my mom would call me away from playing make-believe when it was time for lunch. Usually, lunch was a grilled cheese sandwich with a glass of milk, or a cream cheese and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk. My mom was always a big believer in making sure little girls got plenty of calcium to build healthy bones. She gave me milk with every meal all through my childhood.

She didn’t have as much success getting me to eat my veggies, though she found some creative approaches like telling me artichoke leaves were a special treat because they were so fun to dip in melted butter. (People didn’t worry much about cholesterol and fat in those days.) Of course my tastes changed when I grew up; now I often eat a sandwich on a bun, along with a salad or fruit. But I decided to have something different for lunch today—a grilled cheese sandwich cut on the diagonal, like my mom made.

grilled cheese sandwich 

I never knew why she cut sandwiches like this—maybe so that my sister and I would be more likely to eat the crusts? The grilled cheese sandwich shown in this picture isn’t quite the same, of course. Wide loaves of bread weren’t popular when I was a child, so the bread would have been square; and it would have been white bread, not the whole-grain variety I ate today.

But even though it wasn’t exactly the same, looking at that sandwich on my plate gave me a comforting feeling that all was right with the world. I had a sense of being well cared for, along with a lighter, playful mood. Although it’s not literally possible to go back to childhood (and most of us wouldn’t really want to do that anyway), finding the little things that trigger those memories can go a long way toward bringing feelings of love and nurturing into our present-day lives.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

My goal for this year is to clear away the clutter that has accumulated in my life, both external and internal. I want to free up plenty of room in my home and in my thoughts for cultivating peace, beauty, and joy. I don’t need dusty old junk taking up space in my home, and I don’t need depressing negative thoughts taking up space in my head either. All that stuff has to go!

Looking back over my blog entries at the year’s halfway point, I see that I’ve posted much more often recently. I feel that the work I’ve done toward de-cluttering both my environment and my thoughts has made space for creative energy to come out and play! More often now, ideas pop into my head for future posts, and I jot them down without feeling obligated to follow through with any particular one.

In the past when I kept a page of notes about things I had in mind to write, I felt a sense of pressure. It was like looking at a to-do list. The fewer items on the list at any given time, the more pressure there was. In the back of my mind, I worried that I might run out of ideas or that it might take forever to turn any of them into worthwhile entries. To some extent, I’m sure that became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I didn’t fully trust that there would be more ideas where they came from. I also didn’t fully appreciate that a blog is mainly just supposed to be FUN.

Now my thoughts are flowing much more smoothly—or at least, I am having an easier time composing everyday life and stream-of-consciousness posts. I don’t know why I haven’t been writing much fiction, though. When I started this blog, I planned to post a well-balanced mix of stories and essays on the general theme of modern life. Before that I’d been posting stories to creative writers’ private lists, whose members gave me good constructive feedback, and writing nonfiction articles for various projects. A blog combining both types of writing seemed like a natural progression; but this year, for whatever reason, there hasn’t been much fiction coming to mind.

The conventional advice would be to set aside some time every day for writing stories, even if I didn’t feel inspired. As with any other activity, regular practice would help with getting back in the flow. I haven’t done it, though, because I feel as if there ought to be some other approach that does not require turning my fiction into a daily chore. Yes, keeping to a regular schedule improves focus, both in writing and in other areas of life—but all too often, people force themselves to do something and it just feels like drudgery.  By way of comparison, we all know people who run on a treadmill regularly and hate it, but they never take the time to try other kinds of exercise that they might actually enjoy.  Put simply, I want to be more creative when it comes to nurturing my creativity. I want to invite abundant energy into my life, so that the stories spontaneously bubble over. And I feel that I’d benefit from looking at it in the same way as finding the right physical exercise—that is, experiment with different ways of going about it, and discover what brings me the most joy.

Have you ever had a time when writing prose seemed easy, but you just couldn’t get your fiction flowing? If so, how did you deal with it?

Edited on July 4: On reflection, I suspect I’m overthinking it. I probably should just do the same as with the nonfiction posts—that is, write down ideas for stories as they come to mind, without putting pressure on myself to complete them in any particular order.