Buddy Cushman Art

engaging stories of hope and joy

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Taking My Sweet Time

(From the Morning Pages)

My body feels better than yesterday, fewer aches in the low back and behind my knees. I woke up that way — improved — though surely two aspirin have helped. I also woke with a headache, my first in

me-writingweeks, and it is not lost on me that I ate ice cream last night — lots of it — for the first time in a while, not a good decision for different reasons, which means self-discipline in refusing any of what’s left is the only way to go. Sad or smart or both or neither, life is life. A new experiment keeping my morning coffee hot and fresh, this morning, worked well — some metal container guaranteed to keep liquids piping hot making possible turning off freshly-brewed wake-up nectar, the second cup now as fresh as the first eliminating that cooked burned reality requiring more half and half for balance, thereby settling for less and, oh well, now that’s behind me. Some eighteen days past my 69th birthday. So, better late than never, or who’s zoomin’ who. One of them.



Reading Earnest Gaines upstairs in the blue recliner versus downstairs in my everyday pink, I’m mostly moved by his dedication to writing. He said more than five hours a day five days a week is too much for him, I’d be back-flipped thrilled if I could — if I do — get myself to two hours a day five days a week, which is nearly never — so far. It would jump forward, my writing.


In Rilke’s “Letters To a Young Poet” Rilke asks — the young poet — if he could live without writing. Yes, if he could live without writing, because the answer to that question determines whether one is a writer or not. It’s clear reading Gaines’s essays that he could not live without writing. My surface mind goes immediately to — I could. Meaning I’m not a writer. But on a walk with my wife the other day I brought up the Rilke measure for a true writer and told her it worried me at first glance, but, if I stop to breath –deeply — in all my past there is evidence that I have been one who writes and has written all his life, and there are few, barely any, personal characteristics/qualities I can say that about — a particular act repeated over such a stretch of time. So, a writer, then, I be, and perhaps it is character defects of chronic laziness and never-ending dis-tractability which keep me from the sweat and inner commandment to show up at the keyboard and/or notebook every single day — or die.

And like so much else of life this proposition is worth pondering — if not for you, surely for me. Which I am and I do and I will, and I do show up every single morning for these morning pages for years and years now. There’s that.



Natalie Goldberg Told Me So. Julia and Stephen Too – Writing 101

Okay, here is my assignment for today, 20 minutes of writing that I do not have to go back and fix the punctuation errors, so many thought there may be, but I might at the 18 minute mark. I signed up for this to help me with my most significant problems related to writing. These are not the actual writing itself, because I feel like I have an okay grasp on that. It is about what it is always about for me. Sitting down to write every day. When I first moved to Portland, OR, driving across country from Massachusetts, knowing no one where I was headed, never having been there, just doing it because it felt like the right thing to do, and I was age 59 at the time, I used to sit in a Starbucks on East Burnside and read “Writing Down The Bones”. And I would sit there with a $1.19 notebook and do writing assignments, very much like this, except I had a pen and paper instead of a keyboard. So there were no typing errors then. Anyway, I did that for a few months and hopefully it helped at least a smidge in my goal to be a writer. Then a year or so later I bought on Ebay and Read Julia Cameron’s “The Artist Way”. One of her first suggestions was to write what she called “Morning Pages”, three pages in a notebook every day, without fail. For the 12 weeks to complete the “course”. That was a little more than three years ago and I have been doing my pages every day since then. It takes me about 20 minutes to write them, so when I saw this assignment I was just going to write that I already did it today — trust me on this — which would be true and also, alas, not in keeping with this daily assignment, which if I do this for the next 20 days means I will be writing at least 40 minutes a day. Oh woo is me, he says, forgetting that only a few minutes ago I was leading up to my real problem with writing, which is a lack of perseverance, a lack of persistence, a lack of just getting in the car, as a guy I heard in AA say over and over again one morning in a meeting in the town hall basement in my home town, where I was actually drunk once in high school. Anyway there is no need for me to complain I guess, then, about writing for 20 minutes twice today since it is my hopeful goal to write at least for an hour five days a week. The only thing keeping me from that is me so here I am. By the way, my elbow really hurts from fast typing here, I need to slow it down a little. Stephen King, in the best book I have ever read about writing – “On Writing” – says if you really and truly want to be a writer you need to create a writing space to which you can close the door and you need to show up to your writing space every day, at least five days a week, for an allotted amount of time, he uses as an example four hours. That would be so cool, hmmm, what is keeping me from doing that? Oh yeah, me again. Remember that song by Todd Rundgren, “Hello It’s Me”? ¬†Well, there is my friend and my lazy bum. When I call myself a lazy bum my wife says I am being mean to her husband. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, I try to do it only when she is not around. I am a nice barely writing guy I guess. Well, so there are references to three people who I believe have had a great influence on whatever writing life I have: Natalie, Julia, and Stephen. I do have a blog, where I guess this is going at least for a day or two, and I am sort of “working” ( the crowd bursts into howling gales of laughter) on a couple of books. So hopefully I show up for the next 20 days and do the right thing. I guess it is punctuation time.