Writing Practice
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Writing Practice

I like the idea of writing practice. That writing is to be practiced the way we practiced our musical instruments in grade school. Half an hour a day, every day, whether we liked it or not.

And mostly I didn’t like it. Which really, as an adult I find weird. I mean, I loved playing the flute. I loved playing my flute in the band. The feeling of prowess and belonging when the music flowed on the conductors down beat. An entire room of teens indrawn breath on the upbeat, focused attention and exuberant release, loudly proclaiming our here-ness, aliveness, bursting forth together on the down beat. Perhaps that right there explains the hated practice. Alone, in my room, feeling the fretting of parents squinting with each squeaking wrong note. Isolated, obvious, and wrong, there isn’t much worse in teen life.

In my career I practiced all the time, every day working on as part of a team of professionals we put into practice all the power of our knowledge and experience, helping people. Whether we were working to help residents and staff prepare to mitigate the impacts of disaster or recover from a recent experience of disaster we were practicing our craft together. Moving projects forward, getting results, planning for the future, making lives better. Practice during my career was action. Being a practitioner gave credence and weight to my position in discussions and filled seats in my presentations at conferences.

Now as a writer the word practice holds many positive memories and yet, I struggle to bring the act of practice to my writing. Alone with my laptop, I am thrown back to those angsty teenage times when practicing meant being exposed and the pain of being wrong.

Writing, it turns out, is like playing an instrument, soloist though, not a band member. Not a team member, just a lone voice in the wilderness of my imagination.

I struggle to find the strength to peck out a few words and leave them standing, glowing on the screen, to resist the calling of the backspace key, calling eagerly to clear the screen of dark letters dimming the white glow of the page. The backspace key is both my nemesis and saviour. It calls out each letter as a mistake to be removed and I welcome the clearing of mistakes from the beauty of the work I struggle to create, to leave only the good letters ringing clear in the air as a pure note from a well-tuned flute.

Hopefully, this blog, a declaration of practice, moves the work from lonely struggle to shared experience, writer and reader together making music.

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