by Laura Caldwell
You can't get away from it these days. Everyone from Oprah to Bret Michaels talks about staying present and being in the moment. I get it. I agree that generally life is better lived not in your mind, but in the world that's right in front of you. And I appreciate that if you practice accepting the moment and going from there (rather than running around in your head with panic alarms going off) things go a lot smoother.
But how are you supposed to do these things--how are you supposed to be present and in the moment--when you're a writer? When your livelihood (or just one of your hobbies) requires that you completely remove yourself from the moment and get into someone else's, someone who actually doesn't exist?
My friend, the author, Elizabeth Flock, recently told me about something that happened to her. While she was making lunch, a family member kept trying to talk to her. When Liz wasn't very responsive, the family member continued to attempt to get her attention. Finally, Liz had to explain to the person that since her job was being a writer, even though it looked as if she was simply preparing a tofu salad, what she was actually doing was walking around in the body of a young girl who happened to live in North Carolina. She was, in her head, writing. She was absolutely not in the present, and she was irritated when someone tried to bring her back to it.
That's how it is when you're really into writing something--there's a constant push/pull between the moment you're in and the moment you're character is in. Maybe the trick is to just be fully present in either? To not worry about the other things when you're writing (or making your lunch and writing in your head), to not think about the law students you have to call back and the press release that you have to greenlight--but rather just fully sink into the character who's body you're living in for the moment. And then when you are, later, reading that press release, being totally there? Any other suggestions? I'd love to hear 'em.