Sometimes I just can’t make it happen. I might try to ease myself into it, build up a slow but steady rhythm, try to let go – but in the end I’m left frustrated and dissatisfied. I just can’t do it sometimes.
Most of the the time when it happens, it doesn’t happen like that anyway. There’s no slow, measured pace, there’s no comfort in it. It jolts me awake, I’m catapulted into action – it’s all slapped down hastily, the words tumbling onto the paper one after the other – no time to be structured or arranged they just are, and then they fall, and where they land seems fateful and final.
Sometimes I have four or five things I want to say and no real idea of how I’m going to say them, so I just begin – and I talk until I’m finished and then I end, and there’s nothing to be said or done more than that, is there, because I’ve finished. It’s done.
Sometimes I pick up a pen and do nothing but draw inane loops and circles around and around the page, and the issue. Which is that I can’t write. But I convince myself that I’m the grown up here and I’ll write if I want to, so I sensibly sit down and try to force myself like a machine to produce.
I think of an idea, but before I reach the end of it, it’s already evaporated. The pen feels heavier. I scour my mind for something to put into words but I know it’s pointless. That’s not how it happens. No, it’s much more than that.
I’m shocked, appalled, affronted, heartbroken, dejected, worn, furious, desperate, and rather than a steady stream it erupts like a volcano, and there’s burning hot brimstone raining down with the words. I can’t control it, it’s a storm that arrives unbidden and leaves behind it a landscape completely changed.
Sometimes I’m crying, trying to punctuate through the tears that fill my eyes. Other times I hammer at my phone like it were the very reason for my feelings of anger and injustice. It rushes from my hands like quicksand, and before I know it, the noise has stopped and it’s over.
Whatever the subject, or the reason. The motive is the same. It must come out. It must be put down, in detail, recorded for posterity and folded away. It must be dragged from my mind in strings, untangled like yarn and respooled where it all makes sense. Where it always makes sense. On the paper.
Some people say I need to learn to write on demand. Some people say, never write about yourself. Some people say pay $17 for this book and you’ll be a world famous author within the week. I like to remember some very good advice I once got – don’t ever take anyone’s writing advice too seriously.
Sometimes I might get frustrated, that my writing isn’t as consistent as I’d like, but the truth is I would rather have it come naturally. I would be wary of forcing it and killing what little joy and relief I got from it.
Sporadic, but enthusiastic. That’s how it is. That’s what comes naturally to me. And just when I start to stress and I think I’ve got nothing to write about, there it is.