Monday, February 9, 2009

And so I begin again...

I have a quiet morning for the first time in weeks. There are no pressing deadlines, nothing to do except a household to-do list that can be checked off gradually over the next couple of days.

It is not the sudden-silence that bothers me, but all the ideas I've been waiting to convey—they are not lined up politely in my head, waiting their turn to be let out, but are crowding at the exits eager to be written down, transformed, made public.

My house is quiet but my mind is chaotic. I have been trying to choose an idea to write about, but with so much noise in my head I can’t hear anything particularly, it’s all static. Not being able to choose, or to simply begin, I feel something akin to panic—that there might be nothing there after all. So, I take the easier, perhaps more cowardly approach by choosing none of them, merely writing about the unquiet.

The thoughts are not appeased. If not written down, they will come out in my dreams. Characters who could-have-been will be dream characters, berating me; unwritten stories may become the themes of dreams repeated over and over and never resolved.

Now I understand why a writer should keep a regular schedule. John Updike was quoted as saying he wrote three hours a day, six days a week. Barbara Kingsolver has described herself as a working mother who writes non-stop eight hours a day. The idea here is that the creative mind is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly, if not daily.

But I think regular writing also is a conduit for visions, an exorcism even. I sometimes wonder at people who sit in bars, drinking until they are numb, or all the housewives given Valium to calm their nerves. Maybe their heads are brimming with ideas, and they don't know how to let them out, or even acknowledge them.

Being able to write—having to write—is both a blessing and a curse. When I am unhappy it is most often because I haven’t been able to write for a few days. At least I know that I want to write, whether I have made the time to do so or not—the pencil is a cheap and easy cure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very poignant. What I have always found helpful in my own work is the old fortune found in Chinese fortune cookies (older than that, I know!): 'The journey of a thousand miles bgins with a single step.'