Location and writing

One of the things about writing an essay every day is that I get to observe changes in the way that I write. Different things provide inspiration on different days. Sometimes I go in streaks, writing about similar subjects for several days. Sometimes I get bored with the direction of my writing and head off in a new direction. Fairly early in the process of writing an essay each day, I decided that I needed to stop writing about our cat and what it was doing. I had written too much on the subject, I decided, and my essays were becoming too similar, so I instituted a new rule for myself: no more cat essays. That rule seems particularly strange to me now, because the years passed and the cat got old and died and now we do not have a cat living in our house to inspire essays. Lately, I have been trying to think of ways to avoid writing too much about coronavirus because there is so much on that topic to read already. It is everywhere we turn. Furthermore I posses no particular expertise or insight on the subject and worry that I might not be adding much new information to the conversation.

I began writing my daily journal, even before I started publishing the essays on the Internet, when we took a sabbatical. I was inspired by the process of traveling. Each day I was waking up in a new place, seeing new sights, experiencing new foods, having new sensations. I wanted to record some of my reactions and memories of the experience to savor the travel and to be able to remember. Of course that assumed that I would go back and read the essays I wrote, something I keep intending to do, but which I have not done and when you write a new essay every day pretty soon there are a lot of essays to read. The topics of my daily essay now, however, don’t have much to do with travel. I haven’t been traveling very much. Outside of a few ventures into the hills, I haven’t gone anywhere for about nine months and our travels in the previous year were family-based, so the destinations where places we had previously visited.

For the most part I write at the same library table in the same room of my house where most of my journal entries have been made. I is a very comfortable place for me. I like the surroundings and the computer grants me a way of checking in on the rest of the world as I ponder the subject of the next day’s writing.

With the restrictions on gathering people that are in place to try to slow the spread of the virus, I have added another discipline of writing to my routine. For the past seven weeks, I have been live-streaming daily prayer from the church. Daily prayer has long been a part of my routine, but I decided that it was a way of sharing our spiritual lives in the time of separation, so instituted the practice just before we began live-streaming worship. At first it was a way to learn how to use the equipment needed for the process. I was testing the camera and microphones so that we would be ready for worship. The practice became a discipline. I decided that writing out the prayer portion of the livestream was an important part of the process, so that I would be less likely to misspeak during public prayer. I write a lot of prayers for public worship, so it just made sense to write a new prayer for each day. Then I worried about the videos becoming boring. I have no experience with television and video and decided that there was little motion or visual excitement in a prayer. So I started changing the background every day. Each prayer was from a different place in the church. After a month or so, I had to get creative to come up with new places from which to livestream. Now it has become a challenge to have a new place each day. I keep a list of possible places so that I don’t have to come up with the place as I am writing the prayer. I have a list that has all of the places for prayers for next week already designated.

Strangely, I am not running out of places to pray. Furthermore, I am finding that the places are inspiring the prayers. Even though I am not taking a trip, praying with a different background each day is inspiring and informing the prayers that i write. In a way it is like when I started using moving from one place to another as inspiration for my journal.

The church is a large building, but it is still finite space. I will eventually run out of backgrounds without repeating. I do, however, have a lot of places to go before that happens. Furthermore, the people who view the livestream have put in requests and suggestions for backgrounds, which is fun. I have worked in the church for almost 25 years now and it is a very familiar place to me. Each room of the church is filled with experiences and memories. There are stories to tell about the different hangings on the wall and the different decorations in the rooms. Pieces of furniture have their own tales. I am not having trouble thinking of brief meditations for daily prayer.

One of the gifts of this phase of our life together is that it is helping me to see what has been there all along. Things that I have taken for granted now become inspiration for memory and storytelling. I don’t need distant or exotic locations to inspire creative thinking and contemplation. Everything I need for inspiration is already in the place where I find myself. There is an important life lesson in the process.

In the meantime, I’m learning about myself and about the process of writing. Each new day is a gift with treasures to be discovered.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!