WHAT A YEAR FOR WRITING/WHAT A YEAR FOR NOT WRITING
Y'all know what I'm talking about. How could we not talk about it--everything? When I catch up with my friends lately we release the litany of what's going on and then remember as an after thought, the pandemic. We just crested 6 months and we're used to it. How weird is that? I remember being afraid to wear a mask for ridicule and afraid to not wear a mask because we didn't know a damn thing! I remember the first three weeks of panic attacks I had that were so subtle I thought I was also losing my mind. Sudden shallow breath, increased heart rate, etc etc. I get worried a lot but the physical symptoms of anxiety don't happen to me as often. Yipes. I feel for my frazzled friends and others! That shit is no joke at all. And neither is what we're going through.
Everything is really terrible isn't it? I'm not going to slap out the list just because we're reuniting here as old friends. Instead I'm going to ramble. It feels good to write. It also felt really good to not write or at least not here. A blog is about opinions and so is EVERYTHING ELSE right now which is overwhelming. Plus, I am known to have strong opinions, which means you need strong evidence to support your opinions and while opinions persist, energy to research them doesn't always. Lots of soul suckage right now LOL
I have about 6 drafts of writing in my posts. I probably won't publish them. Maybe I'll print one of them out and burn it just to cement the lesson writing it taught me. So I guess when I say not writing I mean not telling you all I was writing? Not sharing? Being a writer is two fold. First it's my private practice in my drafts, in notebooks, on type writers, etc. The stuff y'all might never see. And, it's the stuff y'all see. Which exists in a type of vacuum where I can no longer touch it. When something is published, it's out there. It's done. The thought has closed its loop. My mind is almost always kicking around a proverbial bucket so having a sort of set end to something is a delight.
Everyone who writes knows though that a piece of writing is never truly finished. It can always be edited; it can always be better. Come to think of it, most art is this way. Come to think of it, most life is this way.
Back to not writing. Not writing and reading instead, watching movies instead, and living our lives while always keeping a small piece of our minds open and sacred for when writing might arrive is also writing.
It is my personal belief that as long as you know and understand what your practice is, and as long as you keep that space sacred in your brain--the tiniest particle of presence--you're good. It's about cultivating a relationship with yourself as a writer, not being a writer all the time. If I was a writer all the time I'd be insufferable! So would you! Writing for me is about capturing that shared gold honesty of human experience which means you must at least attempt authenticity in your daily life. If you didn't, how then could you access this for your prose or verse? Plus no one liked Jenny Schecter for a reason. You shouldn't mine every part of your interpersonal relationships.
Instead I find it helps to conceive of myself as two parties in a consenting relationship. I am first an honest and authentic adult with adult to-do lists that sometimes make writing hard. I am second a writer who absorbs stories, who considers conversations for dialogue, who thinks about your character even if I haven't known you long, and who keeps notebooks. The practice of keeping a notebooks can be done any number of ways. Sometimes I leave myself notes in my phone or quick voice memos; I want a dry erase board in my shower one day. However you do it, I argue that as a writer it should be done.
Keeping a notebook is an intentional part of being ready to receive your writing ideas and fragments as they come. A notebook is that sacred brain space, just crammed into your purse or your back pocket. It also allows for something that I think we all need--that translates from art right back into life: observation.
Recently, I've had a lot of conversations about how my generation is obsessed with naming and defining terms/concepts. It's both important work and divisive by nature. The more we uncover and name ourselves, our feelings, and our experiences the more we illustrate difference. This world would have you believe that difference is scary as hell. But, I urge you to remember that those in power want us to stay focused on our differences, so they can continue to exploit our labor and our attention to line their pockets.
It's important to understand that just because something has a name, has been defined or constructed, doesn't mean it can't also be unnamed, undefined, and deconstructed! This is editing. This is what I refer to above. In the way that writing or art is never truly finished, life can't be this static taxonomy. Observing and listening are crucial, these habits shape our editing ear--our ability to better churn out work with less errors. They also give us something invaluable: the flexibility of time, of choice. I wish more of our politicians and leaders took pause to actually listen, or to inhabit the flexibility of revision, but I also just wish more of my peers considered this.
Art and life are inherently linked--we know this. But we don't always take the lessons that practice can give us. I guess that's what I've been mulling about for the last six or so months. The thesis here is really murky just like the future feels. But, one thing I know for sure: I want that gentleness, I want that expansion, I want that practice both in living my life and writing my life.