“Does anyone ever get to write without a bit of grit in one’s shoe?”
-Eleanor Hogan @ Goucher College 8/8/2007
It was a sweltering August morning at Goucher College, and we had just walked across campus via a dusty path, which always resulted in pebbles and grit getting into people’s shoes. As we did every morning during residency, we sat down and wrote for the first few minutes of our workshop group, and this is what Eleanor had to say when it was all done. She was speaking literally, of course, about the annoyance of having pebbles stuck in your shoe, but everything is symbolic during a writing residency.
Does anyone ever get to write without a bit of grit in one’s shoe? Do we accomplish anything without at least some little annoyance getting under our skin? In my experience, the answer is no.
I do some of my best writing when I am annoyed, confused, depressed, anxious, or dissatisfied. But not because I want to glorify those negative feelings — far from it. Rather, writing is how I hash them out, lay out all the factors, pin them down with the right words, and as I do so, a solution begins to present itself. Writing is like performing surgery, using words to get down to the heart of the issue and see what’s causing this odd pain. It is a barbaric kind of experimental medicine in which practices like bloodletting are not only still in use but highly recommended.
What’s on your mind today? What grit is in your shoe? What is nagging at you and distracting you? Can you transform it from an annoyance into an asset? Sit with it, observe it, breathe with it. Then, from that place of calm awareness, decide what to do with it. Make some notes in your journal, write a poem about it, draw a picture of it, or take action elsewhere in your life.