I’m a writer.
It’s what I’ve done since I was about twelve years old. Stories. Poems. Dialogue. Sketches. Half-baked attempts at novellas. It’s been my crutch, an extra appendage, a coping strategy, an awakening. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t write something down in the notebook for any extended time (say, four days or so). When I did, it felt good – even those unproductive doodling nights when nothing sounded coherent or remotely interesting.
It isn’t a cure-all, of course, but that hard-to-explain Process of creating – that dirty dance with the Imagination – has kept me going for years, that eagerness to see what happens next. I sometimes (perhaps morbidly) ponder what would be worse (or better) for me as a writer – losing my hands or going blind. I haven’t come to a resigned conclusion, but both, I think, would fare much better than losing my creativity. Waking up one day and realizing that my imagination had drifted away would be disastrous. I can’t think of a Me without relating it to Writing.
Carmel’s sneak photo attack while I’m taking advantage of some quiet time at Priest Lake
When I joined the Peace Corps, I was told that I would have ample time to write. Long days and nights would guarantee a volunteer to spend quality time with their hobby of choice or develop new hobbies as a means to pass the time during the harsh winter months or the lazy days of summer. Those two years were the more prolific times at writing in my adult life. My routines were consistent and rarely interrupted. I had music, my notebook, my favorite pen and usually a cold beer by my side. The thoughts and ideas flew on by and I sat back, relaxed, and began writing. Ideas became conversations, characters blossomed and did their jig while I giddily skated the pen over the page. And when it was done, I went back to the happy mess, fine tuning it with edits and drafts, willingly dancing the fine line between making something tight and lean or squashing what was already singing beautifully. I filled up close to six hundred pages in those notebooks, some of the poems and stories decent and amusing enough to revisit (and worth the tedium at trying to get them published) and some of them were left aimless and goofily wandering around that initial golden moment of possibility. Even the crap-writing was a relief because, at least, I was still creating. And creating always felt good.
I’ve been challenged, the past three weeks especially, with balancing the creative necessity and the seemingly frenetic responsibilities that we’ve had to deal with. There was a period that I didn’t write a single word in over a week. I understand that might sound minimal to some people, but to me, that week was excruciating. I didn’t feel right. Like sensing a virus creeping through my body, I felt edgy and more anxious (a double heaping of it). It wasn’t due to a lack of ideas – fortunately I’ve never been stricken with “writer’s block” – even when I haven’t had any tangible ideas to explore. I was still able to sketch, which seemed to break the curse and subsequently open more doors, but there was a lack of creative “me” time with all the logistical, necessary tasks we had to complete. My routine time had been disrupted and, like many times before, I know I will adapt and adjust, just like our cat had to do with her new surroundings. Occupied by three other cats that weren’t at all welcoming with the new addition to the household, she was understandably freaked out and hid underneath our bed for much of the day. But slowly, she found her way around the house, taking stock of her new environment and eventually processing what her new role is going to be. I’m no different, really, and after returning from our vacation from Priest Lake, Idaho, we have just two weeks to get the rest of our responsibilities done and prepare ourselves, mentally and emotionally, for the journey ahead. For me, that means getting some more traction with a long fiction project I’ve been working on, write some poems, maybe a pleasant surprise of a story or sketch will come by and wait around patiently for me to capture it.
Once we’re traveling, Carmel and I plan to take our time in the places that we’re smitten with, and I plan spending some of those days writing; not just e-mails to my family and friends or writing these posts, but Creative Writing, my first love. I’m looking forward to the treasure trove of Ideas/Characters/Scenes/Dialogue that await. As a writer, I’m thrilled. As a person soon to be departing from all the familiar comfort zones, I’m a bit freaked out (the endless tug-of-war inside my brain). I know that all will be okay and I’ll get my writing done. I’ll adapt. Find a (relatively) quiet place to sit down, open my head up and let the daydreams flow on by. I tell myself these things, that all will be fine, but it’s hard convincing the neurotic, edgy me of these things right now. Even this post is something. It’s a start.
A professor once stated simply, “Writing generates more writing.” It hasn’t failed me in the past, and I know nothing has changed with the Process. I’ve let go of many things, but my Imagination is still here, intact and willing. I just have to breathe, open the page, and write the first word. Because that’s what I do.