What I know about writing is elusive. It’s as fleeting as the sunrise over the Rockies but can linger as long as some enchanted evening sort of love–a lifetime or the length of a night. I didn’t know this about writing when I took up this all-consuming passion. I was arrogant enough to believe I welded the power and could control the ebb and flow of my creativity on the blank page. I foolishly believed as effortlessly it is for me to flutter my eyelashes towards a lanky Gemini so would it be filing three hundred double spaced pages. Back then I didn’t understand enough about anything to know better. I had expectations.
In my passionate ignorance, I believed all that was required of me was to turn up each day for an extended period of time and magic would happen on the blank page. What I hadn’t anticipated were the nights I turned up at the appointed hour flipped the switch, waited and waited, and sometimes waited until the blaze of the morning sunrise burned off the bitter loneliness of an unproductive night. It seemed silly almost laughable at first because I had lived several decades without writing so how could the random night without words affect me so profoundly. Along with losing sleep I lost my perspective.
Since red wine and songs of love were not the cure for the void I felt during the barren hours I convinced myself writing was scientific. It’s not chance or random. Writing creatively was manageable, I declared to my good friend the man in moon. It’s a mechanical process thereby controllable by a force. All that was required was a deeper understanding of the craft. I started roaming the aisles of Barnes and Noble, the periodicals, the vast, and overwhelming virtual world, for content on writing. Sometimes reading another writer’s thoughts on writing made sense. I connected but the meaning in the words I had read fizzled when I closed the book or browser. I’d see the meaning clearly as I read the words but the instant I stopped reading the edges blurred, and everything evaporated as it does when you’re walking through a cloud of déjà vu.
When I started writing, I arrogantly assumed I would master my productivity and know everything there was to know about writing. What I ended up learning without a book, a class, or another writer, was that I knew more when I didn’t know anything. When I wrote without the details, without listening to others more seasoned on the craft, when I didn’t lose sleep over tense, or being something other than what I was meant to be, which as it turns out, is raw and authentic.
Writing is such a personal experience, unique to the consciousness on the other side of the page. How can the reader possibly understand what the writer went through to put words on the page? The years it took to find the courage to make a stand, to declare to the void, I am a writer! Hear me! Did you hear me? Please, listen to me. Read my words for they are of me, part of me, all of me. A writer sometimes feels that they are ethereal, part of a secret society that is not coveted. I didn’t know this when I started out. What I know about writing isn’t for me to share with you because I’m not like you or you like me. Each of us hears different notes in the keys on our respective keyboards.
What I can offer from my journey down the rabbit hole is that my perspective resurfaced once I shifted the unrealistic expectations I had of the ethereal muse to me. The understanding I sought in books on writing—the verb—materialized when I accepted my role in the writing process, which was to show up everyday and write. Even those times when creativity seemed lost it was/is my responsibility as the writer to write. Write. Just write. it’s my duty—some might say, obligation—to hash it out until my cadence resumes. There are days when the notes are flat and slow in coming but I push past whatever is blocking me until I hear the notes of my tune—the writer’s personal sonata.
What would your writer’s sonata/song sound like?