Wednesday, September 12, 2018

On Writing

What can I possibly write? 

Say that with different emphasis on each word/phrase, and you have the upshot of the stream of consciousness that's defined  my 7 days of Muse-Tracking here on Whidbey Island. (The brilliant Zen Buddhist Gail Sher opens her book about writing with a similar angst.)

What can I possibly write? (aka I have nothing important to say)
What can I possibly write? (aka There are surely things I cannot write)
What can I possibly write? (aka Who, me?)
What can I possibly write? (aka Probably not write)

If I were an innocent Muse, I'd be hiding out, too.

In all honesty, my darling Muse has been on the run for almost five years. I don't know exactly why I stopped writing in 2014...I have lots of excuses/guesses...but I can tell you if you've received a greeting card from me in the last 4 years, then you've seen most of my work. Three finished novels in the Dropbox file, high profile NYC agent secured, a handful of rejections from editors at the country's top 10 publishing houses, and ka-boom. Writing done. Well run dry.

"Tired of writing into a void."
I'm pretty sure that's a direct quote from me.

I was 10 years old when people started telling me I was a writer. I'd penned (probably penciled) a funny little story about a girl named Angela who invented the first dishwasher.
Angela = the name my 10-year old self wished I'd been given at birth.
Dish washing = my least favorite family-supporting chore.

Some might say I was writing what I knew. Which, of course, is highly recommended.

So I have come to this place, and this desk 2100 miles from home, and these anxious moments to ask myself: What do I know? Can I write it? The answer, I'm really disappointed to say, is not coming quickly. (And jeez, I loathe the mocking of the blinking cursor.)

The writer Lorrie Moore makes this recommendation, which is also not inspiring me: I think you should become a writer only if you have no choice. First try being something, anything else. 

I have spent plenty of time in my fairly long life trying to be something else. But, damnit, I have this relentless nag inside me that says I am not finished creating.

Writers write. That's all there is to it.

But the work is a calling. If the calling subsides, so be it.

And that, dear friends, is why I'm here. To write or not to write...
Thank you for reading.