I seem to need to learn things, and then re-learn the same things, and then re-re-learn, and re-re-re-… well, you get the idea.
Over the last 10 days or so, I’ve re-learned this: do your own work first.
The reason I had to re-learn it is that I started an MFA program and — oh dear — I have assigned reading.
Long-time readers here know how integral reading is to my creative process. And here’s the thing: not all of the assigned reading gets my creative juices flowing. Which is not to say I’m not enjoying it and learning from it — I am. But I still have to do my own work — with reading that does get my creative juices flowing — first.
It’s kind of like that oxygen mask thing they say on airplanes (that I always try not to hear because even thinking about needing an oxygen mask on an airplane makes me feel like I need an oxygen mask).
So I’ve continued to get up before dawn to read what I want to read, and to write whatever flows from that. Later, after the kids are off to school, I move on to the assigned readings (and yes, I realize how lucky I am to have this flexibility).
Days and weeks will come when I have to choose which to do. I will do my own work first.
Unless of course a bleak season comes along. And I think it’s important, when being bossy and telling people to do their own work first, to discuss bleak seasons. Because they do come, and they sometimes mean putting things aside, even your own work. Here is what I’ve said before about bleak seasons. If you are in a bleak season and you’ve had to put things aside, even your own work, remember this: no one can take your (insert your passion here) badge away from you. Life is very lifelike. Bleak seasons come. They also go. Hang tough.
Now off to the work of feeding the hungry… .