Almost a month ago, my friend Kim and I went to the hills of North Carolina for the Wild Goose Festival. This festival is held outdoors over the course of about four days, which meant camping. While we were there it rained. A lot. One day in particular I got caught in a downpour so heavy, I had to keep wiping sheets of rain out of my eyes in order to see. I also happen to have my stitching bag with me, which was completely soaked by the downpour. Since I was camping, and the rain was going to keep coming off and on, I had to find ways to lay out or string up all my scraps in the tent so they wouldn’t mildew.
I am currently working on some ideas for another book. I am piecing together the proposal, the first few chapters. Quite often, I feel like I am am back in that tent, water logged, with scraps all around me. Unable to move without tripping over one or two or twelve scraps, everything always just this side of chaos.
Trying to turn all these scraps into something whole can be maddening. I have to force myself to sit in the chair. To slog through sentences. To just put ideas to paper, whether they make sense yet or not. To write those “shitty first drafts, bird by bird,” as Anne Lamott would say.
Other days I just stare at the scraps, baffled. I read other writers. I clean out closets. I go slow. I mull, and chew, and turn the ideas over and over in my head. I watch British crime dramas. I say formal prayers and have rambly conversations with my maker. I go to Target. I research Bee Keeping. I read the evening Psalm. I give my computer the evil eye. I daydream of a writing shed in the backyard, convinced that if I had one like Ann Voskamp’s all of this would be so much easier.
Eventually, I come back. I brave my self-doubt, and impatience, and I dive in, dig deep and gather up a few of the scraps, doing my best to piece them together. Bit by bit. Bird by bird.