I’ve been thinking about writing a lot lately. I don’t mean it like I’ve been thinking about starting to write, like someone says, “I’ve been thinking about going fishing one of these days.” I’ve been thinking about writing when I’m not writing. I think about what I’m going to write and I write in my head. Or I think about characters. I’m starting to wondering if I’m turning my life into one big blog post.
I once worked with a poet. Not a full-time professional poet, but a want-to-be poet with a day job. She only talked when she absolutely had to. She was the definition of “still waters run deep.” I always thought she was a bit strange but now that I’m writing every day, I kind of get it. I bet she was writing poetry in her head all day long.
All this mind-writing worries me a little. I’m all ready a very internal person. I don’t usually say what I’m thinking. I have a friend who once accused me of being mysterious because if we’re making plans and I couldn’t make a certain date, I’d just say no without saying why. She, on the other hand, would tell us exactly what her conflict was. I’m not trying to be mysterious. It never even occurs to me that they might care why I can’t have lunch on Thursday. The reason usually isn’t that interesting.
I think I just use fewer words than most people. I have the same problem when I’m telling a story. I’ll have this great, long anecdote to share with a friend but when I tell it, I somehow end up giving the Reader’s Digest condensed version. I skip over all the gory details and get right to the point. Unfortunately it’s the details that tend to make the point interesting.
So I’m all ready rather reserved and now I spend all my time writing in my head, so I’m even more internalized. If I’m not careful, I’ll turn into a hermit. Or one of those people who sits on a park bench muttering to herself.
Although, one could argue that while writing is a solitary activity, I am actually sharing more information about myself than I ever have before. You would certainly learn more about me by reading my blog posts that you ever would by engaging me in a conversation. I tend to get my conversation partners to talk about themselves because it takes the pressure off me. The result is that I share little and learn a lot. But these posts are all about me.
The other thing that worries me about my current passion for writing is that I tend to get a little OCD sometimes. I don’t want writing to become one of those things that I totally obsess over and then burn out.
I must be coming across as a loon! I’m not really OCD. I just tend to get very single-minded about the things I’m passionate about. I spent a solid six months listening to only Guns n Roses back in the late eighties or early nineties. I learned all these details about the band and knew every single lyric. Obsessed, but in a fully functioning, perfectly normal way. I didn’t stalk Slash or have a creepy collage of Axl Rose pictures covering my walls. At least writing is healthier than a fascination with a heavy metal band!
Part of the allure is the ritual I’ve created around the actual act of writing. (Oh God, now I sound even crazier! Like I chant and burn incense or herbs before I write. I don’t. Really.) I always write at night, when it feels like the rest of the world is asleep… even if it’s only 10:30. I sit in my bed, with the computer balanced on my knees and the only light in the house is the lamp on my bedside table. My cat is often lying beside me and I feel like I’m in a cocoon. It’s just me and my thoughts. I feel protected and safe. It’s relaxing, almost meditative.
The whole process makes me think of Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own.” Or more accurately it makes me think of the Indigo Girls song “Virginia Woolf” because I’ve never actually read the entirety of “A Room on One’s Own.” But from the song, the essay’s title and what I have read, it puts me in mind of my writing ritual. Writing in my own very private space, with the freedom to express what I am thinking, be that fiction or my thoughts on fireworks, Broadway or bad hair days. I bet Virginia Woolf would be in favor of blogs.
Lately I’ve been thinking more about expanding my writing. I’ve actually blogged about my desire to write a novel several times all ready. (See, more me being obsessed!) I wish I could just figure out the ritual I need to establish to get started. I wish I could get this idea out of my head that I need to know exactly what is going to happen to every single character before I can begin. I guess I have too many high school English classes in my head… too many lectures on story arcs and beginnings, middles and ends.
I do know one thing, after just two months of writing one thousand words almost every day other writing has become easier. I needed to write a press release today and it just flew onto the page. It took my thirty minutes, at most. I’m also in the process of writing a grant narrative and it too is coming easier than it has in the past. I guess practice really does make perfect. And even if I never write a novel, even if this project ends up simply being one year of practicing my writing skills and allowing myself a little meditative time at the end of the day, that’s all right. I’ll still be the richer for it.