I recently noticed a strange phenomenon on Facebook which slowed my crazy life to halt for a few moments, forcing me to ponder it. There are memes, a variety of pictures and cute sayings that writers themselves are posting, which are prompting writers to, well, write. Some are gentle reminders, quotes even, that coax and motivate the way of the writer. One says "Keep Calm and Write On." Another is a stick figure pointing a gun at another stick figure seated at a keyboard. There is humor in this, sure, but there is also a sadness. Shouldn't writers long to be writing? Shouldn't they count down the hours until they arrive home from work or school and then finish dinner or chores so they can relax into their element and type away?
I suppose that I am somewhat biased in this because as a full-time student and member of the working retail community, I'm lucky if have time to write a few pages that aren't about theory or curricula over a four month semester. I hear the siren song in my blood to write. The ideas bubble up while I'm in class or in the subconscious of my mind while asleep. Friends and family ask if I've been writing and I look at them tiredly and say, "If only I had the time." They laugh and reply, "Of course there's time. Anyone can make time if they want to." This is true. I could stay up extra late (that means later than it took me to write my five page reflection for homework after being on campus for twelve hours) and then show up to another class the next morning (or work depending on which day of the week it is) looking like I had partied hardy at a rave all night. Trust me, it's very hard to concentrate on a monotone lecture without the extra obstacle of sleep deprivation.
Don't get me wrong--- I'm not condemning those who have a lighter workload. I didn't always feel so motivated. Even though fairly prolific when I was younger, I remember days when lazily hung out with friends or watched TV when I wasn't working. Days when I wanted to lounge around rather than writing. This was before my years at Towson University. There were times when I had to force myself to write but was glad of it later. For those who have a full time job with odd mixed hours or have a family, I sympathize. It's hard to have a full plate of responsibility and be a creative person. Creation takes energy and tireless nurturing, something that is hard to do when balancing papers, long hours and or taking care of elderly family members or children. But even then, there is time. We can find that time and cherish it. In some ways, it is better to have the experience of being torn from doing what you love for a time. It hones and shapes your longing so that when you return, when you find those unexpected moments to release that overwhelming urge to write, paint, sculpt, dance---whatever your passion is, then the spectacular font of imagination bursts forth from the dam and drowns out everything else.
I know for a fact that though I have only written three pieces over the last four months, those pieces are better than what I had written before them. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, true, but experience also shapes the writer. And with stories brewing in my brain, the steeping brought out all of the sweetness and bitterness that would have been lost with a fresher cup. Writing helps me make sense of where I've been and where I'm going. For me, its not about putting writing into my life but about putting life into my writing.
So for those that are stressing themselves to write-write-write and hitting a wall, perhaps take a break. Turn off your Facebook, your phone. Go a few days, a few weeks, without writing and then see if you aren't the one attacking your muse rather than expecting your muse to attack you.
Thanks Mom, for pushing me to write this post. Blogs are shorter but no less meaningful than novels. Though I don't always have time to write more than a few pages, there are some lucky days when I do have twenty minutes to write something. And so I did.
News about my latest publications coming soon. For now I'll say that two short stories, "Truth" and "Code Red" will be coming to a special anthology by Black Bed Sheet Books.