At the recommendation of an acquaintance, I purchased The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal: A Five-Year Record. It’s a thick compact blue book that promises to help you capture 1,825 happy moments.
Each page begins with the date, a quote, and five sets of blanks next to five 20__. It’s enough space for maybe a couple of short sentences.
It arrived on September 16th. I diligently recorded my happy that evening. Then September 17th, yesterday, rolled around. The day had been rough. My six week old twins were cluster feeding, refusing to sleep for the entirety (or even more than 30 minutes) of their scheduled nap times, screaming every time we tried to move them into their cribs, and then refused to settle easily after their bath and night feeding. I crawled into bed last night after holding a baby for near on 30 minutes while it wailed in my ear and saw the blue book on my nightstand. I tried to rack my brain for one happy moment. Just one. We all have one each day, right?
I had had several moments of contentment throughout the day. Like when I drove the twins home from Babies R Us and spent an extra 20 minutes driving around side streets and residential neighborhoods to keep them asleep a little longer while I listened to a podcast I like. Like when I’d fed my son that morning and he’d wrapped his tiny fist around my finger and clutched it the entire time. Like when my husband and I took them out to dinner with us, so we could go out and feel sort of like we were on a date and I’d fed him bits of a cinnamon roll dessert. But happy? Truly happy? Not really. I could only record THE TRULY HAPPY MOMENT.
Granted, it was probably my perspective. Content probably equals happy (it is a synonym after all). I’m pessimistic by nature and I’ve always skewed towards the depressed writer aesthetic, but this also is such a perfect metaphor for writing in general and how it is for me when I’m stuck.
I tell myself, “Write just one line of a poem or even a whole poem if you can swing it. It can be terrible. Won’t even take you very long. Just do it.” But since I’ve had a hiatus from writing (aka pre and postpartum), I get stuck, not even able to write down a word without wanting to erase it. And in this child-induced writing drought or what I’m making to be a child-induced writing drought, a measly line could mean a whole lot to restoring me to that creative self. It would maybe even lift my creative self’s esteem a bit because now she feels covered in spit and wonders if she’ll ever stir some words together and get a poem again.
This is all to say: I should start with a sentence or a line. An ugly one and work my way up (or out or through). A sentence or a line is reasonable. It’s possible.