Nomadic Writing

by Anna Blanch on June 25, 2012

It was probably unwise to expect myself to get much written or edited in the midst of spending time with a lot of people I haven’t seen in three years while here in Waco. But I did expect it. I have to expect myself to get at least an hour a day of work in no matter what,  otherwise the days slip away and this exercise in nomadic writing will be for nought.

This weekend was so full. full of laughter and friends and those moment where you know you are known and it doesn’t matter how long it was since you were in the company of the person across the table, it is good and it is easy. So easy that you all know that this is a rare and wonderful thing. These are the people who can ask the difficult questions, and who you will answer because you know they will love you anyway, and who can tease you in the same way they always have…

And yet in the midst of the joy of wedding and friendship and sharing stories, another family suffered great heartbreak and loss.

Two little girls mourn the death of their young mother. A scholar whose life and work honoured the vocation of professor. Whose encouragement and curiosity showed me how I could also be. A woman who will be sorely missed, but whose faith gives me hope.

I haven’t felt this much, haven’t experienced the full breath of human emotion in such great depth in quite a while.

I can and only do take solace in the work of the creator in being able to feel so much all at the same time.

Writing then becomes an act of discipline, an act of joy, of hope, of perseverance in the midst of life and other demands, and of fidelity to the encouragement of those who believe in me. It is an act of embodying that which I want to be, of exercising muscles I don’t know I have yet.

Nomadic writing has been teaching me a series of lessons about writing.

No matter where or when: write anyway.

There are always wonderful excuses pulling you away from the hour you can and need to get done. Write anyway.

This is not punishment. This is possibility.

Make the most of a schedule you can set. Of seeking out locations that are new and different. Don’t crowd yourself out.

The circumstances will never be ideal. Just make the most of the circumstances you have.

Freewriting is your friend. Freewriting helps me to write myself out of whatever emotions are at the forefront of my mind and would distract me if I didn’t let myself be aware of them and then put them aside.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.”

And on that note I need to go and edit a few more pages before I meet another friend for lunch at one of our favourite places!


Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.

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Traveller. Scholar. Photographer. Writer. Dreamer. Teacher. Anna Blanch is founder of Goannatree, and a PhD candidate in the Institute of Theology, Imagination, and the Arts at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews, Scotland.

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