I can be a bit eccentric when it comes to my writing.
Some days, without realizing it, I’ll find myself pacing barefoot back and forth across my apartment, twisting this ring I constantly wear round and round, up and down, absent-mindedly jerking off my finger, perhaps believing it might ejaculate a great idea. This I do completely by reflex. Whether I’m vacuuming, in the middle of mixing spices for a meaty marinade, listening to my MP3 player while carrying off laundry to the washer, or even deeply engaged in conversation, when inspiration hits me I drop absolutely everything I’m doing and run off like a crazed person to get my thoughts down before they escape me.
If I’m out and about when creativity decides to come a-knockin’, I’ll whip out my notebook, my tablet, or some random crumpled pocket receipt and subject it to my deranged visualizations. No blank surface escapes me. Whatever media I can get my hands on to solidify the barest threads of a concept intended to be used later for a full story I take and viciously impregnate with my thoughts.
All writers are a bit mad that way, I think. As we’re finally typing out our ideas and adding flesh to the bones of a great piece, the best of us laugh full laughs at our own jokes and find ourselves exclaiming aloud to the empty room around us, “This is the greatest idea ever!” … Only to quickly lose interest in our own work as we progress, second-guessing ourselves and face palming through, sure that this piece, this out of the many we’ve already written will be the laughing stock of, oh, I don’t know, whoever is bored enough to read this terrible thing that’s managed to jizz from our fingers and onto a page.
Such is the life of a writer.
Writing again feels like I’ve released this burning thing inside of me that’s been aching to get out. It’s difficult to describe the delight of it, this wonderful feeling of pure inspiration fueling my every thought. It’s this weird sort of high, like I couldn’t stop myself if I tried.
Friends of mine who write, from those who’ve published books to those who only peck away at short stories, they seem to “get it”. They understand the weird zone writers get into when in the middle of churning inspiration into something palatable.
“Cheri, care to grab some tea?” A Facebook message pops up on my mobile, revealing a charming and published acquaintance of mine.
“Sure, in a bit,” I type back, keeping it brief but polite.
“Are you busy today? Head ringing?” He asks.
“Sort of. Just writing,” I reply.
“Ah. I’ll leave you to it. I know what that headspace is like.”
This short conversation stands out in my mind because, deep inside, there is a very lonely little part of me that cries out gratefully, “You too?” This piece of me longs to be understood. It feels weird, shamed by the fact that it loves to write, carrying the baggage of its past, afraid to move forward, and afraid to progress. But to be reassured, acknowledged, and supported in a passion that drives me from my core — there is no greater feeling. I can’t believe I stopped writing. I can’t believe I let someone stop me. I can’t believe how weak I was, and how, in those moments of fear, I forgot the strength I found through it.
“I’m glad you’re writing,” another charming friend said recently, and I remember feeling my heart warm. After months and months of being punished for writing by someone who absolutely did not have my best interests in mind, that sentiment alone from a friendly face flooded me with indescribable pleasure.
“@heycheri It’s so good to see you writing again!” Now inundated by swarms of tweets, emails, and private messages from wonderful followers and long-time readers, it’s all I can do to keep the corners of my lips from turning up into a smile.
It’s as if by writing again I’ve unlocked some door that’s been in plain view this entire time. As if I’ve stepped into a paradisiacal world full of amazingly cognitive people. A world I was once forbidden from entering. A world where it shocks me to meet others with respect for the written form. A collection of sapiosexuals, brilliant thought leaders, enchanting entrepreneurs — all of them just a little bit crazy because, like me, they love to write. Is this where these people, my people, have been hiding? Can you understand how foolish I feel to know that the key to this door has been within my grasp this entire time?
“Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure only death can stop it.”
– Ernest Hemingway
For a while there, I was dead.
I was living, going through the motions, but missing something.
I couldn’t tell what it was because I was so convinced that writing was bad for me. I was brainwashed into believing it was something I should abandon entirely as it would ruin my life.
I was so stupid.
Jesus, I was so stupid.
I can’t let that happen to me again.
When inspiration knocks now, determined to be seen in writing, I welcome it like a familiar old friend. “So good to see you!” I exclaim, letting it through the door. Then, panicked with my inadequacy, I overplay the gracious host. “God, I’ve missed you! Would you like some tea? What can I get you? I have lovely biscuits from this organic food market around the corner — here, let me take your coat!”
But inspiration, wonderfully warm and gracious as it is, fails to hold a grudge. It doesn’t care that I once pushed it from my life. It doesn’t care that I once refused to acknowledge it. Instead, it visits me as often as it did before, as if nothing’s changed, and as if the past few horrible months of my life never happened.
So here we are again.