Ever wonder what it’s like to be a writer? I mean what it’s really like….here is a late night behind the scenes in the life…come with me.
Sitting with my feet up beside a pile of laundry and a tent. No, we’re not on a trip (well, it’s a trip but no that kind of trip). The Sierra Designs Half Dome is in the space between the entrance and the dining room. “This is just a test run.”, Phillip Claiborne would say…ha, ha! Grandma and Grandpa are back from Mexico and coming west for their annual visit so Jack has decided to set up camp in the living room while they sort out some sleeping arrangements between the Star Wars Lego and the two single bunk bed mattresses in his red and blue Lightning McQueen bedroom with matching sheets. Somehow it all makes sense…(if you haven’t read ‘Clutter’ and ‘Calm’ stop here and read them first, otherwise don’t ask.)
aside: I should fold the laundry on the chair but I read somewhere once conquering (or at the very least challenging) the OCD tendencies is a good thing.
Fish is up too…I woke up after thinking, “I’ll just put my head down for a minute.” That was four hours ago. Note to self: who are you kidding? Note to readers: never lie down in matching TNF ‘The Cat’s Meow’ sleeping bags indoors. ‘The Cat’s Meow’…who could not curl up and drift away in that name? Just slipping in is like a sleep-over with Holly Golightly and Jack (Paul) Varjak. From the Pacific Rim, to the Stanley Glacier, to the Castle Mountain campground, to my living room, there’s nothing like ‘The Cat’s Meow’.
I put my head back and close my eyes and feel the tension in my shoulders fade as the weight of my head rests on the cool brown leather sofa…and I remember where I was when I picked up this pencil, ‘Clutter’ and ‘Calm’. A month of waiting between pay cheques and deposits and the night the pain in my chest returned and woke me from my sleep. I sat right here (on the other cushion actually) praying it would stop…just stop…get to the point…and I decided to just get it out.
Writing is like that. It haunts writers in their sleep until they can’t. It spills out on pages, breathes, sleeps, and then the thumping in the night of tell tale hearts drags us back to pull up the floor boards and feed them some more…to set them free. The inner dialogue is a schizophrenic menage…”it’s not finished”, “just say it”, “you can’t say that”, “yes I can”, “are you afraid?”, “what are you afraid of?”, “just say it”, “just get it out”, “just click publish.”
Edit, polish, insert, delete, half as long, twice as long, un-delete. Yes, un-delete generation-i, that’s the ancient magic of writing in pencil on pages in a book…when you click ‘delete’ the paragraph your conscience just deleted in cyber-world is still there on the page keeping you honest, well mostly. Visions and revisions, save draft, spell check, grammar check, ‘explain’ grammatical error propt…click ignore, and in that instant that lasted three hours I knew…(I will explain that soon.)
The images come later. I’ve been using almost exclusively my own original photographs lately because they reflect and refine the thoughts and feelings between the words. The one’s you don’t read that I still see. They define and characterize, no…search for a better word…they are my conscience. They are the spaces between the words I didn’t say. Sometimes they are nothing more than sea shells and crabs and walks on beaches and rooms with views where I picked up the pencil but more than that, they are mine.
A million poets and authors have said it before me. “Let us go then you and I…” T.S. Elliot, A.E. Housman and a pint of bear, “My Last Duchess”, Gertrude Stein, Emily Carr, William Carlos Williams, Doug Coupland, yes, even Douglas Coupland…even Homer, they’ve said it all before, I know, but this is mine. This is not a thesaurus. These words are mine.
I wrote to a friend in the midst of the weeks of silence who claims she is a writer but has never shared a word (if you’re reading this, you know who you are) that I was at a tipping point where I needed to decide how far out I go, how much of my life I will share in these words (and maybe more-so how much I care if people care what I say or how I say it). The truth is I never stopped writing, I just stopped sharing. It’s the question that drives us, there beneath the floor boards still beating…whatever it is for each of us is answered when we click ‘ignore’ because in that moment we finally turn off the voices and the questions, the TV’s and the cellphones, the tweets and the Facebook friends, all of the clutter, when we shut it all off and there is nothing (even the hum of the refrigerator just paused on cue) we find our voice, the truth.
…spell check, images, publish.