Thursday, July 30, 2009

The writer's eternal question

It's the eternal question: do I pay bills, or write a blog post? Leave the dishes in the sink, or write a journal entry? Do laundry, or start a short story?

Sometimes, I choose to ignore all the petty little things that compose a household, and then someone informs me (usually the very morning they need it, like this morning) that they don't have clean socks or clean underwear. Or someone walks into my dusty house and I can almost hear their silent tsk-tsking.

I imagine this is why there were so few female writers in the past, at least among the lower classes, because they had no one to wash their laundry or clean their dishes. Writing used to be a luxury for women; maybe it still is.

I made a joke out of this in a very small magazine, in a special issue called The Lost Poetry of Women (and other people). [The issue was published 15 years ago, so obviously this has been a recurring theme in my life].

In one piece in that issue, Mrs. Gautama Buddha complained,

I hear you are growing fat. What else happens to a man
who sits around doing nothing all day?

In another piece, "The Annotated Shopping Lists of J.R. Smith," the housewife Jane Reed Smith's shopping lists from the 1950s were mined for the poetry she scribbled in the margins, such as:

I just know that, sometimes, the dishes be damned, I need to write, or I start to feel an underlying grumpiness that's almost like a bad taste in my mouth. If the days become weeks, I almost feel that I'm going crazy. I've been like this since I was a teenager, when I was stirred to write bad poetry and narcissistic journal entries in the quiet of my room late at night.

I finally recognize and acknowledge that I've got to express myself in written words on a regular basis–talking is never enough. Other forms of creativity can tide me over for a few days, but I always feel an urge to get back to writing, like a need to get back home, to the natural home for my thoughts.

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