Episode 18: Your Mind on Brownies
In the ninth and last episode of the “honoring your creative space” series, we look at the abundant joys that arise when you actually honor your creative space. Creating is not all woe and difficulty: sometimes creating provides us with the deepest satisfactions available to us. What are these satisfactions? Tune in and find out.
Today’s show is the ninth and last episode in a series called “Honoring Your Creative Space.” In this series I’ll be chatting about what you need to do in order to find, protect, and honor sufficient space in which to create. For convenience I’ll address you as a writer, but the same ideas apply whether you are creating novels, paintings, songs, or theorems. Today’s show, from an essay in my forthcoming book A Writer’s Space, is called “Your Mind on Brownies.” Let’s begin!
Over the past several weeks we’ve chatted about the dark and the light: the dark of emotional disturbance, stolen neurons, and meaning crises, the light of worlds birthed, park bench musings, and you sitting at your desk with a smile and a bright idea.
A writer’s space is just like that, dark and light, and more gossamer and golden the more you can manage your moods, write to your satisfaction, and enjoy some successes. As a sensible creature, you certainly don’t expect round-the-clock sunshine. But do you expect some excellent pleasures. Here are some on them.
It is quiet. You have a lovely idea for a book. You take your laptop out to the living room sofa. No one is around. You boot up your laptop. Your idea is percolating; you can feel some richness coming. You make yourself a cup of white pomegranate tea and pull out the pan of brownies from the refrigerator.
Should you cut yourself a small piece, a medium-sized piece, or a large piece? This is such a lucky hour that you go for the large. You are ready: big brownie, hot tea, and the fine pressure of delivery. The light is subdued but ample; the world is hushed; you open a new file and see a blank page appear. Even the morning stars stop twinkling so as not to distract you.
You begin. Nothing is in the way. Your physical space is a joy. Your emotional space is clear. Your neurons are firing. Your fingers move and a sentence appears. It is beautiful from beginning to end, pregnant with meaning, exactly what you intended, and as good a start to this journey as you could have asked for. It is so fine a start that the next sentence tumbles right out, dying to join the first.
This is a good hour. No sugar blues, only sugar happiness. No doubts, only enthusiasm. No minced ideas, only serendipity. You continue. Whole pages come. On some days five hundred words exhaust you; today you find yourself on page nine so suddenly that you wonder if you’re in a parallel universe, one where writing is easy.
You have no need to reread what you’ve written; you know that it’s working. Another thousand words come and that’s that, that’s all you brain can manage. But you’ve put almost four thousands words down on paper, a twentieth of your book, good words, words as good as words get. You created a world that when you awoke didn’t exist; and you just know that other human beings like yourself will be happy to experience this world, that your imagined world will become their vicarious home for the few hours they visit it.
You never did finish your brownie. You remember taking a few bites and then you vanished into the writing. Now you heat up your half-cup of tea and luxuriate with it and the excellent remaining brownie chunk. It is very smooth but also very nutty, the perfect brownie, not unlike this perfect writing day.
As soon as you finish your tea and brownie a wisp of a meaning crisis drifts by: you’ve written, you’ve had your brownie, and now what? But you smile, shake your head and decide where you will make your next meaning investment. You will do a little writing business. You are just in the mood for feeling like a real writing professional, someone who segues effortlessly from making magic to selling product.
You sit back and dream a whole series into existence, one that begins with the book you began to birth this morning and that takes readers on a splendid journey through many volumes. You create the series in an hour and spend another few hours polishing your vision and making sure of your intentions. Then you craft the sales piece describing the series, the rhetorically powerful sales piece that will cause editors to drool and pull out their checkbooks.
But wait! The day isn’t over yet. While you were dreaming your series into existence you were, unbeknownst to yourself, also still working on your book. Now another few thousand words of that book demand to be gathered. You gather them; it becomes evening; you have hardly moved from your spot all day long. Now for some dinner! Could a writer have a better day?
Fortunately this doesn’t happen every day or we would be insufferably happy. But we are glad that it happens occasionally. No, the writing life is more than tumbleweed and sandpaper, addictions and mental lapses, chill winds and botched endings. Some days, it is the best thing on earth. Some days, it is the kind of thing that makes even a sad mortal quietly smile. Some days, it is amazing.
And what if we never experience a perfect writing day? We write anyway. We write anyway, because we are the sort of creature who sees something at the age of seven, and something else when we are fifteen, and knows that it is our destiny—one of our destinies—to pull that all together into a fine piece of fiction that would also make an excellent movie. It is only one of our destinies, as we can also go in that other direction, in the direction of not writing. But who wants to go there?
Four things to remember:
1. Make absolutely sure that you have a primary writing space. Then write there, serious in your meaning intentions.
2. Go there now.
3. Bring along a brownie and a cup of tea.
4. Have a splendid writing day. And if your day isn’t turning out to be all that splendid, write anyway.
That concludes today’s show. I hope you’ll come back next week for the beginning of a brand new series. To subscribe to “the joy of living creatively,” please visit personallifemedia.com, where you’ll also find my blog. You can drop me an email at [email protected]; and I hope that you’ll visit my website to learn more about my books and services. That’s ericmaisel.com—(spelled out).
Thank you for listening!