Sometimes pulling words out of my head is as hard as pulling teeth. I sit here for long, silent moments before I finally get the fingers into motion and make words come out. And even then, it might only be in an exercise like this, where the brain feels fuzzy and empty, like a warm glowing mist universe. There’s not a lot going on in there, it’s all just soft and uncertain, nothing sharp and defined. Words are crisp, their edges hard. It’s like my digital painting efforts. For some reason my work on the screen looks soft and furry. On paper I can manipulate a brush to lay down ink or paint just so, and the result is purposeful, direct, clear. Most of the time. Some days it just doesn’t gel.
Like today and words. I can sentence. I can’t plot. I’m not even sure I can essay. Heck, even sentencing isn’t easy when I start thinking about it too much and don’t let my fingers do the flying on autopilot. It’s a good thing no one has to edit this!
Blind writing. I’m not a good enough touch-typist to actually close my eyes and type. I need to be able to at the least see the words as they scroll across the screen. I remember learning to type. Mom found a manual typewriter somewhere. I know now that it was an engineering thing of beauty, but at the time it was literally a pain – it hurt my hands to hammer away on it. I think she was not only anticipating the need for typing (this was far before the era of computing, so I don’t think that was part of it) but also she was trying to get me to write. Up until I was about 14, she had to force me to write. I hated to write at all and would sit and sulk for hours over homework that wanted me to put more than two sentences down for an answer. But in my freshman year of highschool, the cork was drawn, and I started to write and haven’t stopped since. I wrote essays, fiction, poetry…
I wrote a lot of poems. Most of my journals are long lost now. But I filled a few every year with journaling and poetry. Stories about my life, and later, the babies as they came along. Poetry was as compelling for me as fiction is, now. I have a vivid memory of one long poem coming out while I was out with friends, and them basically shielding me and guiding me back to the car to return to dorms because that poem was pouring out of me. Years later, one of them found me on facebook and asked for a copy of that. I don’t know if I even have a copy of it any longer.
The poetry came to a crashing halt one night when I was arguing with my fiance, and I wanted to write out how I felt, because I was better able to express myself on paper than in words. I was literally tongue-tied, and he lost his temper with me. After that, I stopped writing again. The cork was back in the bottle. I tried to pull it out, a few years later, but it was wedged in there pretty hard. Only once did it pop out on it’s own, at the nadir of my life, when I realized that this could not go on. Coming back out of that, the poetry flowered again for a few days, and then it was gone again, like a desert spring. It would never come back again. The poems I still physically possess are in the most part really awful. Trite, badly written, just… dreck.
But in the wake of their passing, I found fiction again. And in the creation of worlds to tell my daughter a story, I rediscovered the intoxication of writing characters and having them come to life in my head. Daydreaming on the page. It’s really the best high when it’s going well. It’s a complete pain in the tush when it’s not, and I know better, now, than to let it go dormant. I have to push, sometimes, to get that cork loose and the story pouring out. Because I know now what I didn’t know back in the day. I’m not on the outside pulling the cork. I’m on the inside pushing it out and gaining my freedom. The genie is out of the bottle, and nothing can keep me locked up in there again.
I write. I am a writer. I don’t have a choice, the words need out. I don’t need readers, although they make me happy. But I must write. Even if I can’t see what the words are doing until they’re out of me and lined up across the page in formation. I’m not a neat and tidy writer. It’s a messy process, like fingerpainting in the dark. Sometimes, you flip the light on to take a look and flip it right back off. Other times, you turn it on and giggle a little because it worked, it really worked.