The last sip of coffee

Like most writers, I write an awful lot more than I publish. I have several journals on the go: one for evening gratitudes, one for daily writing and two related to home educating my children. Although this blog has been rather quiet of late, words are still circling in the aether around me and many of them land in one of these four journals (or alternatively on the back of a coffee-stained envelope in the kitchen).

My days have been full of my children’s projects;

insect project journal

experimenting with my new iPhone macro lens;

up close raspberry

pretending to be civilised by drinking tea from china cups and reading the children poetry while they play in the garden;

tea and poetry edited

as well as tending to the veg patch, reaping the harvest, boiling up jam and making countless meals for a very hungry family.

But ever there are the words.

Today I had a chance to sit in a café and write in my journal. I drank my coffee and stared at the page, wrote a few lines, savoured a bite of a croissant (even more enjoyable because it was free!). Then…the last sip of coffee—the end of this writing session was drawing near. What had I to show for it? Today it felt forced. Finally time to write without interruption, sitting on my own in a café, but still there were distractions even if they weren’t in the form of my own family or a sink full of dirty dishes. The words wouldn’t come. Creativity felt as though it was dripping out. I wanted to give myself a hard shake, whack the side of the bottle, get the flow going.

For me there’s no such thing as creativity on-demand. There is pre-writing to do. I need to exercise the ink, to get the hand into the customary cramp, to find the comfortable side of the nib. There’s the pause as I lift my head from the page to look around. I look down and pick idly at my cuticles while the dripping tap begins to flow. I scratch my head, rub the bridge of my nose, crumple a tissue.

The clink of spoons against teacups feels like the ticking of a clock. Time alone, time to write—it’s so precious. I don’t want to waste it on unworthy throwaways and awkward phrasing. I want to bask in the warmth of beautiful words, and prose that trips off the pen and tongue like a languid drizzle of oil.

There is rarely enough time to mine down into the depths of writing to find that golden seam. I don my helmet, descend down, down into the dark depths of the mine shaft. I chip, chip, chip away at the crumbling, dark soil. The hint of the motherlode is revealed in small nuggets: golden words that fall from the pen, dropping at my feet. I stoop to collect them, turning them over and fingering their rough facets. A bit of polishing, and this might actually be something.

The key is to keep at the coalface. The nuggets of beauty are there. It takes time to uncover them. And not everyone will value them the way I do.

So why do it? Especially when life is full of projects, a new macro lens, tea and poetry, and of course all those meals to cook?

I write because the shine of those golden words is utterly entrancing.

I write because the heft of those nuggets in my hand is worth all the juggling it took to write them.

I write because those polished words have a resonance that penetrates deep within me; they are an expression of my essence.

I cap my pen and snap my journal shut as a waitress comes to clear my tray. I clutch my journal close to my chest as I leave the café. Words, words. Those words are the filigree wrought by my heart. They are priceless to me.

© Lisa Hassan Scott 2014.

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