How easy it is to have a full mind and yet feel like I have nothing to say. To look at a blank page with pen in hand and feel empty. Or to stare, in a semi-catatonic daze, at my computer screen as that persistent blinking cursor taps its impatient foot and dares me to type something—anything so it can move horizontally and vertically.
What an intimidating undertaking writing can be. Searching the deep recesses of my mind for an idea or memory—feeling around in the dark and hoping to find something. Trying to create order while wading in chaos—and then writing it down. Attempting to fill a page with words—words that aren’t sterile, but pregnant with images and meaning. Wanting to share thoughts through symbols and syntax, using vocabulary as paint and drawing text out of the lexicon to help you see what I see.
How diligent my internal critic can be. Never taking a day off. Warning me against revealing too much or pouring parts of myself onto the page that others might find unappealing. Criticizing before I even begin creating. Reminding me that writing is often a stripping down, and not too many people look good naked.
How easy it is to want to give up. To lay my head down on the desk, then move over to the couch or bed, hoping not just to fall asleep, but to wake up with inspiration. Or to decide that it’s time for a snack, a walk, to balance the checkbook, do the laundry, read a book, or watch a movie. How tempting it is to find other things to do—to have a torrid affair with procrastination—a lover that never forgets to shower me with flowery distractions or preoccupations that taste like chocolate.
Some days the words spill out of me—tripping over themselves as they each race to reach the page. Sometimes my fingers can’t keep up with my mind. Or my hand begins to cramp from so tightly holding my pen. Some days there is a tsunami of thoughts swelling within me head. The pressure builds and has to be let out. Other days, the seas are painfully still. Not a ripple in the water. Not a breath of wind.
On those days, writing is work. It is everything hard. It is moving the stubborn ox. It is giving birth. It is walking a mile in uncomfortable shoes and eating Brussels sprouts. It is swimming the English Channel, running a marathon, and then climbing a mountain. It is getting to the top of the mountain only to discover I’ve climbed the wrong one—that this isn’t what I wanted to write about at all.