Before I started writing Wild Words I was standing in my living room in California, looking at my life. My son slept in a rocker, sun streamed through the window, and I was coming to terms with the realization of how much my life had changed. My biggest question: How would my creativity survive? I figured I’d navigate motherhood as I went—exploring baby-led weaning, mastering the art of the swaddle, and securing childcare when the time was right. But when it came to my writing life, I felt like I was floating in the middle of a vast ocean, unable to see the shore.
I didn’t know it at the time, but those tender postpartum months gave way to a new approach to writing, which is the anchor of my book: seasonal creative living. That is, recognizing where you are, honoring it, and moving through it with grace.
One of the biggest benefits of this approach is the opportunity to refocus on my own path and pay less attention to someone else’s. Comparison is the enemy of creativity, after all. There will always be writers a few steps ahead of us, and there will always be writers itching to arrive where we are right now. Becoming rooted in whatever season I’m in instantly grounds me to myself and my work. This is my wish for you, too.
Wild Words is organized in ten chapters, and offers exercises and reflections for how to navigate each season.
Going Back In Time
Listening To Your Body
Raising Young Children
In addition to exploring the seasons above, Wild Words also recounts my creative history up to this point, and offers a real-time account of what it looks like to write a book while working full-time and raising a family. I wanted to share this truthfully not as someone who had figured it out completely, but as someone who struggled in the day-to-day, just like you.
A poem by Mary Oliver, “Morning” is reprinted in the beginning of the book, which is where the term “wild words” is pulled from. I read her poem exactly when I needed it, when my life was happy and content, yet I couldn’t ignore my own wild words bubbling to the surface. Once I latched on to this idea of seasonal creative living, I began to prioritize my most important projects, let go of the rest, and started writing one word at a time whenever I could manage it (which often looked like typing one-handed on my phone during feedings).
Those days have faded to memory now. As I write from my office in North Carolina, I’m struck by how quickly life can change. Just a month ago we had a light dusting of snow on the ground. Last week, we started self-isolating in an effort to protect ourselves and others from the rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus. The pantry is stocked, I’m glued to the news, and the world seems so afraid and vulnerable.
We have collectively entered a profound season of liminal space—the time between what was and what’s to come. It’s a chapter inside Wild Words focused primarily on creative liminal space, but many of the lessons still hold. Release or adjust expectations, consume the work of others (rather than pressuring yourself to finish projects), sit with the questions, and care for your body.
In an era of uncertainty, my greatest hope for this book remains: that something inside its pages meets you where you are, and gives you permission to embrace the season you’re in.
Editor’s note: Join us in May as Callie Feyen leads a book club discussion of Nicole Gulotta’s Wild Words: Rituals, Routines and Rhythms for Braving the Writer’s Path. We’ll begin May 1 and read on the following schedule:
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- Book Club Announcement: Wild Words by Nicole Gulotta - April 23, 2020
- Eating and Drinking Poems: Neruda’s “Ode to the Onion” - January 16, 2014