"Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours."
The above is a quote from US poet Jane Kenyon (1947 - 1995) who died of cancer at the age of 47, just when she was writing some of her best poetry. Her poems are resonant of a clear simplicity, each word chosen with care, loaded with meaning, and as her husband Donald Hall said about her work, '... her style is a glass of water - a 100-proof glass of water.'
I keep this quote handy, especially in times like these when one never knows what the new day will bring. Here in New Zealand, it could be floods, as climate change brings us the freakiest weather I've ever seen, or it could be the near heart failure one experiences at the check out when the operator tallies up your meagre groceries and it comes to $200 for bare essentials, or perhaps yet another pitch from the politicians as they rally and scramble to impress us voters with their promises for the upcoming election.
The quote reminds me that there is always the one constant - and that is our gifts as writers and creative people. Jane Kenyon enjoyed many of the things she mentions and I applaud her for that as I know it was most likely hard won. Today many of us cannot protect our creative time as well as we'd like to, with everything else that's going on but we can always be mindful of being a good steward of the precious gift of creativity.
The flame might flicker, or get a little dim, but it's always there for you. Never doubt that.
I've found in my daily work that nurturing the wee flame can be a saviour when the days are darkened. Many of the writers I've worked with over the last few months have found solace in their writing. Their projects have given them purpose, an outlet for emotions and feelings, a way of coping in a world that seems off kilter in a big way.
So make time to 'feed your inner life' and ignore the phone.
Read good books as the winter sets in, and take those walks, look up and look down at the trees, clouds and sky, and structure in that writing time ('work regular hours...') when you can be with your gift ... and shine.