Thoughts about authors are running in a loop through my brain. All the bright minds, the billions of words placed with nimble grace on blank paper (or blank screens), rivers of ink, mountains of pencil shavings, and hours of pacing, hair pulling, nail-biting, cuticle chewing, and neurons firing like comets streaking across the night sky. How many eyes have read the trillions of words making up the poems, short stories, essays, books and book reviews (to name but a few) that make up the world of words in print or on-screen? My mind reels trying to put it into perspective, reminding me of coming upon an ant colony while weeding and watching them pour out of the opening I’d made accidentally. Tiny, but determined, they were a mighty force, and seemed endless in number. What a luxury it would be to have words pour forth similarly. For me, though, it is less often like the ant colony and more like trying to find the bee my toddler stepped on under yards of beach sand as the tide came in. I subtitled my blog “Trying to Find the Words” for a reason. This has been a draft for well over a month, and I’ve been an absentee blogger rather than an active one. Much of my absence is the result of avoidance. Delving into painful feelings, taking the risk of putting words down on the page…it’s difficult. It’s easier to stay caught up in the storm, like we all are today, and not push through it to the eye, a place of stillness where processing can occur. Then there’s the extra step of trying to share that processing in a way that can be of value to others. The amount of energy that you lose when you don’t follow your process is debilitating, and the anxiety churned up from sharing has its own price. The storm is still raging all around us now but the eye is moving closer, and stillness will return again. We don’t know when though, nor do we know how much destruction will be left in its wake. As I wrote in the title, it’s all unexpected. For most of us, life is an unpredictable journey. Learning to ride through the storms, to let go and move with the waves, the tides, that is one of our biggest challenges. Trying to then put what we experience into words, or to create new worlds, is both challenge and reward. May we all find what we need to keep our process in motion regardless of the unexpected moments life throws our way. Namaste’.
Most authors I’ve had the pleasure of reading interviews with have said that one of the hardest aspects of writing is sitting down to do it. In addition, and perhaps even worse, you have to put up with writing a lot of garbage (and reading it) before you write something really good. I’ve spent my life simultaneously writing, and avoiding writing. I’ve kept a journal since I was able form letters into words with some sort of writing implement. I’ve let thousands of stories come and go, or languish in said journals due to my dread of having to actually revise them. Confronting the “crap” that many of us start out writing has kept me from an art form that is my greatest passion. Given the choice of watching television or reading a book, I’d choose the book 99.9% of the time. When I was in elementary school I would walk to and from school reading, and even read during lunch at home. (much to my Mom’s frustration – sorry Mom!) Yes, it was an escape but it was also the words. Words are glorious, amazing, and completely inadequate at times. Spending hours fretting over a relatively small number of letters as you try to capture the essence of an experience is your daily task. It is a type of insanity!
I read the work of successful authors (published and able to make their living doing it), and it all looks so seamless. Then (as I wrote above) I hear them speak or read an interview, and find out they have had to do the same thing I struggle with – except they actually DO it! What’s more they put themselves out there and face rejection, bad (or cruel) reviews, and KEEP doing it. Writing (and the arts in general) has to be one of the most difficult “jobs” there is. You have to be brave to be a writer, and writers who put out several books a year are my heroes and heroines.
My disabled son is stuck upstairs waiting for me to come up and help him start his day. That tension of wanting to keep writing but knowing he needs me is indescribable. I know, it should be easy. Go upstairs, help him as he needs, and THEN come down and finish this. There are writers who can do this, certainly. Unfortunately, I tend to be emotionally labile and my head may be in a completely different place by the time I get back to this. Of course he will win out because I love him, and I try to be a decent Mom, if not a decent writer. So, I lift my iced coffee in celebration of all the literary giants, and unheard of nobodies, who take a crack at this craft. To quote Tiny Tim from Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, “God Bless Us Every One!”
“I’m coming son – sorry!!!”