It wasn't just the winter that was difficult to get through--it was an entire year (or more like 2 or 3). But it is this past winter that I remember best. The pinnacle of my writerly despair? Winter is the season whose starkness remains the clearest in my memory. I remember it as a time of walking. It was a time of whiteness, brittle branches, and drafts crawling across wooden floors. It was a time of darkly brewed morning coffee served in a large porcelain cup that I held with both hands. It was a fragile occasion, a time of horrible tears and self doubt and mind-numbing nothingness. The more time I had, the less I got done. It was a time of anxiety. Cold air, walking, my wolfie--these are the only things that made it possible to even breathe.
I was unable to do the one thing I love most: write. The void was dull and blunt and, my god, I have never been so scared of the lack of something in my life. Silence looked back at me with its blank face. Words piled up and got tangled like a jumble of broken chairs.
By spring, luckily, I was finally able to give up the ghost. Or perhaps, more precisely, I just plain gave up. And that's when it happened. That's when I started to really write again. That's when words ceased feeling so icy, so broken, so confusing.
In Writing Past Dark, Bonnie Friedman writes about mesmerizing herself with the ritual of language in the same way that the Bushmen were said "to mesmerize themselves, to enchant themselves, to induce a trance state for themselves so that a vision could come, an ecstatic experience beyond what they could reach with their ordinary minds." She explains:
"The Bushmen had visions of being what they hunted, what gave them life: an eland. They had visions of being dead, of being under water--a fish--and they returned from the trance swimming back toward life, their arms gliding, swimming back into the rhythmic pounding of stamping feet. People in the community had to touch them, had to welcome their bodies with their own patting hands so that they could fully return, so that they could be here now."And that is what this blogging community has become for me. You are the people welcoming my body back into being so that I can start over, so that I can be here now. I first experienced this sort of community in a few good writing workshops--and maybe that is where I learned of its importance. Writing is a solitary act, but something incredible happens where people gather. Finding a balance between letting go and letting in--what could be more dynamic?
Friedman continues by saying:
"This is where wisdom came from: surrendering to what is beyond yourself, where your self is not. Discovering that you are part of an existence that is greater than you, that is greater than even your humanity, although you may experience this only when your thinking self is quenched."It wasn't until I gave up that I was able to get past myself and all the manic thinking that had frozen me solid.
These days, I write because I enjoy it. I write because it helps me understand myself and the ever-shifting world around me. I write because I have something to say and because I have nothing to say. I write because I am happy, sad, lost, grateful, confused, content, passionate, frustrated. And sometimes I write because I am none of these. I write because I am in love with the details of the smallest moment, the smallest object. I write to remember. I write to forget. I write to be quiet. I write because that is my better half. I write for pleasure. I write because I’m a glutton for punishment and because I like to make life complicated. I write to simplify. I write to sharpen the edges. And then I write to soften them. I write in search of something more. I write in search of truth. I write because I am waiting. I write for revelation. I write because it’s cheap. I write because I’m an idiot. I write to save myself. I write to lose myself. I write because I like the sensation of swimming. I write because I don’t know what I’d do otherwise. I write because I want to. But in the end, I write because I must…with hopes that the rest will follow.
...and you can find more writing here.