Lucy Miller Robinson - In Her Own Words
Lucy Miller Robinson
I started writing things down at a young age. I still have the journal I constructed at age 6 with lined paper, staples and a real padlock. By age 7 I wrote that I wanted to be an author. My first poem came at age 8, tapped out on my motherís typewriter. My best year of elementary school was the 4th grade when I had an incredible teacher. Under her direction, I composed poetry about my interior castle and the color purple. That year an acting troupe came to my school and turned a poem I wrote about my baby brother into performance art. At the end of that year we moved to a new city and I never saw the teacher again.
Moving and puberty and boys and extracurriculars and even academics were all excellent distractions. I didnít think about creative writing for a long time after the fourth grade. Even a stellar eighth grade English teacher couldnít catch my attention with her weekly assignments to ďwrite from the silence,Ē at least not for longer than it took to write the essay, a process I relished.
In college I wanted to write, but I was too scared to admit it. One quarter I took an English class linked to an anthropology class to fulfill general education requirements. For that class I wrote an essay that was supposed to be about my personal background. I made up the whole thing, inspired by my best friendís roots in South Africa. The English professor loved the essay. Instead of encouraging me to keep writing, she said I must have had a good writing teacher in high school. I never told her the truth. I had no idea what I was doing but somehow I didnít feel bad about it. I didnít know it then, but this was my first fiction piece.
Blogging aside, I started (consciously) writing fiction a few short weeks after birthing my first daughter. I wrote my first novel with a sleeping newborn strapped to my breast. Itís never too late or too early to begin writing. Itís never a good time to begin writing. But if you feel called to write, the perfect time to start is now. If you donít have an idea, thatís okay. Sit down, start writing about literally anything, and donít stop until the ideas come. If you are meant to write, they will come.
E.L. Doctrow said: ďwriting is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.Ē When I write fiction, I do not plan plot points ahead of writing them. I start with an inciting incident and a character or more, and I let it flow. The flow state brings everything I need to craft a story. I learn about my characters this way. I watch them evolve this way. It is organic and it is messy and it produces the occasional inconsistency, but thatís what editing is for. Besides, humans are not terribly consistent beings, so why should our fictional characters be any different?
If you want to do something, but you are blocked by resistance, the creative energy does not go away. Instead of going out into the world to serve a higher purpose, it will weigh you down, leaving you susceptible to depression and numbing substances and filling agents. Becoming a mother woke me up. I felt empowered from having a child. I wanted to be my best self for her. I realized that writing wasnít as scary as not writing. When I let go of self-doubt, I could face the blank screen. I had no expectations for the first draft, in fact, I took comfort in Ernest Hemingwayís words: ďthe first draft of anything is s---.Ē I found that once you move past resistance, you will write more. You can write and write until you come up with something you love. And you will love it.
Now that I write on a regular basis, I find inspiration everywhere. Instagram feeds, children on the playground, pieces of conversation collected on airplanes and city streets. I want to make the world a better place by writing about it--because sometimes we cannot see the absurdity of our actions and reactions until we see them as art. Iíve written stories inspired by entire pieces of my life and also by a passing headline. I donít think the sources of inspiration matter as much as our willingness to open up to them. If we open our hearts and minds, we can free whatís inside.