It seems that I am having a hard time writing these days.
Oh I can put words down on the keyboard, but they are floating about and bumping into one another and jostling for space and not behaving as they should. The words are flailing about, treading on one another, stomping on each other’s feet, adverb-sarily taunting one another and just being naughty in general. Whenever I get into a flow, bombs drop out of the sky and poke holes in the narrative. Analogies breakdown quicker than a Hyundai in a snowstorm and my beginning-middle-end have no beginning, middle or end. It’s a hodge-podge of gruel, porridge and mush.
I have about 15 posts in my drafts folder and am becoming a draft dodger as I try to soldier on here. I am warring with the words and they have me laying down arms and typing fingers. Every time I get the buzz to scribble down thoughts, they vaporize and scatter like roaches when the lights get turned on. Whenever I get the zen to share something here, words turn on me. A literary Lupus of sorts.
They say that when you are stuck, it’s important to keep writing. They say that even if you write about not being able to write, write. And that’s what this here post is. I am writing about the fact that words are playing a cruel game of hide-and-seek and I am the exasperated parent on the couch with a tumbler of Sprite and a thimble of patience and just not interested. But that’s the game. That’s the way it goes when you write. Ass-in-chair wins out all the time. Ass-in-chair gets words on the screen, even if they don’t make sense. Anne Lamott talks about writing a “shitty first draft” and I have plenty to plaster the walls of Paris with that.
That is what writing has taught me – to write. Even when you hate it, even when you love it, even when the wallpaper is peeling and you want to fix it and even when everything in you says f*ck it and want to go and play Angry Birds for an hour or watch bad music videos on YouTube, you write. Or when you run out of coffee. Write.
Stephen King once said that “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” I understand that because when I sit at the screen, all my fears and voices within join me, and they chatter and catcall me and pinch me and heckle me and they play the vuvuzela in my ear. When I push them aside and honour the one singular voice that is scraping on the walls of my mind to breach surface, then I can begin the flow. I can then start to heed that call that is always hounding me. Beseeching me to put digit to keypad.
I am a lot of things, and writer has always been one, even before I learned what writing was. I can’t talk worth a damn, my drawing and painting skills go no further than stick figures, I dance like an Ewok having a seizure and I sing like a dying aardvark. But I can write. And no matter what I have endured in my life, writing has been there. The only time I put writing back in the desk was in the last painful years of my active drinking life. That hurt as much as anything else did. The one thing that centered me had been put in the rubbish bin alongside the empty bottles.
I used to write short stories. I also started a novel. As a starter of things, I am batting 1.000 in the Big Leagues, but as a finisher, I am still riding the pine in Triple-A ball. This blog was my gentle re-emergence to the craft, to at least get something out there, to put one bloody word in front of another and not trip doing it. I still haven’t touched my old stuff nor have I started anything new. Fears still hold me back, but I am aware of that and hope to get past them and just start. Ass-in-chair kind of stuff again.
So in the meantime, I write about not being able to write, and yet I write, so perhaps I am being dishonest when I say I am having a hard time writing. Perhaps it’s just that I am a having a hard time putting it together. Or having a hard time being vulnerable. Or having a hard time moving through the things that block me from doing something great. Or at least passably good. Or having a hard time getting to the real core of things within. The sticky stuff inside. To quote Mr. King again – “Fiction is the truth inside the lie”.
Isn’t that what we do here when we write? Dismantle everything and display it for all to see and pour blood on the page and bring a light to dismal places? It’s about the truth, and I can manipulate words and they can manipulate me and yet me meet in the middle with those who read them and we collude to see our own truths in our eyes and we settle down for tea and share.
Or coffee. And I truly am out of coffee. And that needs fixing.