non-news and news
As far as I can figure, I haven’t felt compelled to blog because by the end of the day, I’m tired of writing, of looking at the computer screen, of playing leap frog and tag with words. Nor has my routine been a blissful, “Oh yes, goody goody go! Let’s write!” feeling each morning. It’s been a challenge to sit down, every day by 10am, and write for 4 hours, and then purposefully fill the afternoon with editing and research.
process, mechanics and emotions
I had “writing streaks” last year, and some of them
were “feel good” and when they weren’t, the momentum was within distant memory, spurring me on to write, hopeful I’d cross into that “feel good” and productive zone again. This summer, July and August, I have ring-fenced for writing, which means setting aside other projects, like Ecodharma and the translation work. The intention is to minimize distractions and hope that will maximize my focus and bring the same positive and concentrated energy I had at times last year. But, so far that hasn’t happened, or at least not in the same way.
It has felt good to have a regular schedule, and to
feel some command and control over my daily to do list. I wrote myself a job description, which I think has been helpful on days of sloth. Also I now better understand the slow, daily slog that is the process of writing a book.
finishing is great
I mentioned to a friend who is a”real” writer about my struggle, and she assured me it’s normal. Even for her, sitting down to write every day can be a challenge, but that’s what writers do: sit down and
meet the challenge and write. Some days may be easier, others harder, but writers accept this as part of the “job”. Writing, like most jobs, have lows and highs. “When the book is finished though, that’s a different story. That’s a great feeling,” she said. “That’s why I write. To finish.”
Writing, researching (some more) and re-writing have been the landmarks of my personal calendar and geography this summer.
A bit different, but related, in May, I started a letter-writing project and a series of drawings about my sense of home. Together I hope these practices will pull together my past and present and give me insight and tools to shape my future.
The letter-writing and drawing projects aim to help me to understand – what do the Zapatistas really mean to me, a Western, middle-aged, white woman from the US? And how, (or whether), I can amplify their voices and stories without misrepresenting them or putting myself in the way? Solidarity and humility are what I strive for. I also try to link directly to Zapatista communiques and news to give examples in their own words what the concepts mean that I am writing about.
i didn’t know that i didn’t know
One thing I do know is that I’m driven to write this little book
about Zapatista concepts because I – someone who worked with them in Chiapas – I didn’t really understand them and their experiment in autonomy like I do now, until I had personal experience with their concepts in my own “home territory” (the Global North). Of course at the time, I didn’t know how big my gaps in understanding were, but over the years, thanks to the solidarity work I’ve done and other “compañeros” I’ve met, I am better informed.
But some days writing the book has brought up more questions than answers, and that then becomes part of the daily struggle: research (some more) or just push on and write? “Write” says my friend “every day”.
I am the captain of this journey into greater understanding,
but a nod of gratitude to a few groups who have really helped my thinking move along. Movement for Justice in el Barrio is an amazing group based in New York City doing community organizing using a Zapatista-inspired model. Also the conversations and work I did over the years with the London Mexico Solidarity Group were essential. I wouldn’t be pursuing this project if it weren’t for them.
The mistakes and misunderstandings I’ve made or had over the years though, are all mine.