I feel like I need to write them.
I have been, actually. A quick e-mail here and there, just a sentence or two. Don't forget to do this, be sure you remember to pick up that, call this person, mail that letter, tell yourself these things because if you don't, they will blow away like powdery snow that refuses to stick.
But there's more than a list of chores accumulating in my inbox. There are ideas, baby ones, for writing. For essays that will have to wait till the thesis is done.
Trust me, I'd work on both if I could, but I know the limits of my energy and concentration. Still, I'm excited. For so long, I've wondered if all I had was this work, and if it was never to get finished or I lost interest, what then?
I wrote about inspiration in the days after my conference, and then I found myself without it last week. Out of some instinctive need, I went to the library and turned to the voices of the writers I'd met -- some in person, some through the mention of their work. And the fog in my mind began to clear.
It was not the exact subject or idea that helped me. In fact, reading someone else's work on the same thing you might be writing about can be very intimidating -- it's been done, it's so easy to think. And there are critics who will say that it's true, that love and death and trauma are all tired topics. But it's not the what of the writing; it's the how. One of the panels I attended was dedicated to that idea, what happens when we're told that something is too "done" -- or so the language runs -- to write about anymore.
I came away from that panel with more resolve behind what I'd been trying to do in the last few years. Not that this alone can clear those pesky blocks from my mind when the work doesn't know where it needs to go. But in reading the prose of one of the panel members this week, I was able to get away from my own tangled thoughts and understand, through her way of narrating her story, that sometimes not knowing how to proceed is itself the fiber that can tie words together. Instead of trying to sew up holes, I needed to point them out. And what each person doesn't know, how she navigates that -- this is what fingerprints a work, making it its own.
Chapter 6 is at last under way, and no, I still don't know where it will end up. But I know with certainty now that this is okay. That the examination of the unknown itself may be just where it needs to go.
Thank you to everyone who's sent me suggestions, exercises, and even talismans for kicking the writer's block! It's been incredibly helpful to know you're cheering me on.
1 day ago