Writing a Personal Essay with a Rock in Your Boot

This morning, a tiny rock, stuck between my wool sock and my boot heel stopped me in my tracks. At first I thought I could ignore it until I’d turned the horses out. The horses were already snorting and pawing at their stall doors, impatient after a night indoors. I was feeling a little guilty for running late with the barn chores. But, Oh la! The rock!

I leaned against the barn door, tore off my boot and sock, and there it was; not a rock exactly, more of a pebble, tiny, no bigger than a snow pea. Still, I had to flip my sock inside out and shake good and hard to loosen it’s tenacious grip. Pain free at last, I realized that trying to ignore the rock had been a bad idea.

When you’re writing a personal essay, pay attention to the rock in your boot, that something in the back of your mind that chafes or rubs you the wrong way. Maybe you’re writing something nice about your Aunt Lucinda. She was so sweet and generous and she always threw the nicest holiday get-togethers, but a memory surfaces; that time she stole a pair of sunglasses from Woolworths. You think, “I can’t write that…it’s not nice.” Write it anyway.

That’s the rock in your boot. Whatever you think you can’t write, is exactly what you should write.

Rock on.

Just Write

Winter has officially arrived here in the northeast. AsĀ  you know I love to write about my passion; horses. Today, outdoor temperatures idle at 4 degrees Fahrenheit. A good day for writing.

My first instinct is to snuggle under a warm rug with a cup of tea and my latest journal, but I’m a horse owner and hunkering down isn’t a luxury I can afford. The horses need to be turned out, their stalls need cleaning, icy water buckets need to be chopped with an axe. It’s rough going.

As a writer, I’ve learned to adapt. I slide a small notebook and pen into my coat pocket. I bundle up, head outside, and start mucking stalls. My mind wanders and before the first stall is clean, I’ve thought of an idea or two. I pull off my glove with my teeth and jot my idea down before my fingers go numb. Then I put my glove back on and let my muse do it’s thing. All I have to do is be present and ready with my pen and notebook.

I don’t wait for a quiet moment to write. I’ve been at this for a long time and I see now that my life has no intentions of settling down. In fact, my life feels like a fractious mare; no sooner do you get things smoothed over and composed than someone tosses a firecracker right under your hoofs.

Just write.

Even if you’re in the midst of chaos. Get yourself a notebook. Buy your favorite pens at the dollar store…and just write. There will never be a better time than right now.