“There's no point going in the water if I'm not going to swim,” I say, firmly, in a dream
This was a few days after I began the Brave Blogging class. Swimming has long been a metaphor for me about diving down, going deep with my writing. It seems that, even asleep, I can’t escape this intention.
One of our early assignments was to speed write on the topic what am I afraid to write about? I’ve done this for several days. It’s generated a lot of material, and the suspicion that I’m less afraid to write than I am to publish.
I’ve kept a journal, fairly regularly, for thirty years; so there’s not a great deal I haven’t written about in some way. But there are some subjects I’m hesitant to share. I think it’s a precarious balance, that narrow bridge between confessional and inconsequential.
So I switched to asking what do I want to write about? Where is the intersection of my talent, passion, and skill? If I were truly meant to write, would I need classes and prompts? Or would I just write?
I keep thinking that there are writers who are disciplined; who keep their homes tidy and their studios organized but inspiring. Who read only the best literature. Who follow a working schedule and know what they want to say. But maybe there aren’t such people?
Maybe they’re more like me, distracted and confused. Maybe they, too, waste paper and time. Maybe their domestic and personal lives are in chaos. Perhaps their dogs aren’t reliably house trained and their cats poop by the front door. Maybe their pens run out of ink and they frantically dig through drawers looking for another, not remembering where their new stash is hidden away.
Perhaps they, too, experience long periods of – not writer's’ block, but writer’s unwillingness. Maybe they feel they don’t know enough, aren’t skilled enough, aren’t good enough at being human.
When I began to write, years ago, I would know. Something would demand to be written. The poems would shout at me until I wrote them, and then speak and peck at my ear until I rewrote and revised and felt the rightness in my body. They would wake me in the night to move a line or a comma.
Perhaps that’s what I fear, or no longer have the energy to manage: that insistence, that preoccupation, that compulsion. Maybe it’s too much for a tired, not-well, old woman to carry? That was about needing to say something, needing to tell. Now do I have nothing to say? No love to spark it? No one who must hear?
Have I said it all, all that I have to say? Perhaps the swimming hole is dry.