Monday, January 14, 2013
Writing about Not Writing
I am giving myself permission to write a really lame blog post. This is my attempt to exorcise the "you have nothing important to say" demons dogging me. I defy them. I will write and post despite them, to spite them even!
First, can I just say: Writer's Block stinks.
Is this the same phenomenon for all writers? Or do the anti-creativity demons use different tactics with different souls? For me: what begins as a self-imposed choice to not hammer out an inspired idea (I don't want to get out of the shower, the kids need food and civilizing influence, that pile of laundry can *not* be ignored, sleep really could be nice...) at some point ceases to be a choice. I hear or read something that inspires me, mull it over a few hours, and have a seed-thought response germinating, but...I'm too busy completing XYZ crucial "real life" task; I must ignore this emotional interior tug to write what could very well produce something masterfully profound, because I just do not have time right now to sit still.
Most likely, I don't have the patience to reach down to that place in my gut and rip out/examine/parse out exactly what I am feeling or thinking. There is not enough time or energy to respond in any way to do this idea justice. Instead, I type my seed idea into a Word Folder and promise to get back to it... and before that happens I have another (separate or related) thought and do likewise with it... but then weeks pass and I don't make good with any of it. Eventually, the urge to return to these ideas ebbs away.
This is how I gunk up the mental-emotional works necessary to produce words worth the time to read.
I now have a folder full of half-started ideas spanning back four to six weeks, during which time I would sit for ten minutes and plop my impressions and "seeds" into a word document (my intention being to sit with it and dwell upon it later). "Later" became after Christmas, then... "after New Year's Day."
Here we are on the fourteenth day of January, and I am finally taking the time to get back to these morsels.
You know what? I feel like I've missed a feast; other bloggers have already been to the table and nourished themselves on thoughts very much like the ones I was too preoccupied to delve into myself; their opinions and reflections are uncannily like the very topics I'd ruminated on in bed, in the car, or in the shower, but never bothered to whip up into a proper meal.
There are still a few topics untouched, but they are merely crumbs. Some of those crumbs that I'd been salivating over getting back to are now, quite frankly, stale.
Yes the holidays had me tired, busy, emotional... I was also scared. Intimidated. Procrastinating. Avoiding; so much of my inspiration sprang from the painful and personal, and touched the controversial. I held back because an inner voice nagged, "You can't talk about that; you have no right to it. That experience isn't yours..."
I need to learn a lesson from my six-year-old daughter, Gianna: when inspiration strikes, drop everything and follow where it leads, with whatever tools you happen to have at your disposal in that moment. Gianna created the above flower from her spring-summer memory via mundane mediums: Bic ball point pen and washable Crayola paints on ordinary printer paper. When she showed her finished product to me, I actually gasped in recognition. I knew this was a Tiger Lily, even when she herself couldn't recall the name of the flower, only that it grows in red-orange bunches by our front steps every summer.
She wasn't bogged down with hang-ups like, 'I don't know the name of that plant,' or 'I have no way of seeing this flower closely now that it's winter, so I won't bother painting one now 'cause I might get it wrong.' She didn't think, 'I don't have an actual canvas,' or "These are not real artist brushes; they're from Wal-Mart, so I can't really make art now." No. She saw the flower in her mind's eye and, on impulse, set it down for me to see. With that instantaneous simplicity of childish wisdom, unfettered by self-absorbed self-consciousness, she made something pretty darned good.
I'd always loved being a student, which is good, because motherhood schools me constantly. Reflecting on this moment, on this joyful example of my six-year-old daughter, leads me to conclude that Voice doesn't come from authority. Voice and art come from experience, which as an amalgamation of time and perspective, is not always "safe," and is rarely neat. Sometimes we just have to dare to go there.
I need to trust the tools at my disposal, and learn to make such daring a habit.