Reditus

It’s been a really long time since I talked about writing.

I started this blog years ago when I was determined to be a writer (re: do more than just fill notebooks at home, in private, with no one to read what was in them). I thought I’d write confidently and prolifically about the craft and business of writing, as I was growing and learning. But since then I have drifted far from that center to explore whatever was interesting to me. Turns out I didn’t want to be bound by one idea of what I should be sharing. Turns out I’m not so good at having a unified message.

I’m coming back to writing today because I’ve lately been thinking about how much it’s changed for me. Whatever fount of creativity I’ve been clinging to over the last few years has dried up and left in its place a well from which I must plumb. What at times was lustfully overflowing is timid now, underground, waiting to be coaxed to the surface. What may have been exuberant in its offering is now withdrawn. Everything in life is cyclical—even this. And I find myself in a new cycle of thinking more and creating less. Air-dried and thirsty in the desert. Remembering the feeling of being soaked.

Practical reasons, I can guess, for this new state. If I want to be analytical, I can say that much of my time not spent on my paid work is spent dealing with the current political situation and my newfound activism. A worthy reason, some would say. I also wrapped up final—final final—revisions on my second novel earlier this year—a novel over a decade in the making—so maybe my brain and my soul just need a damn minute. And because I make a living as a freelance writer and have to come up with words on demand for other people in other industries about which I usually know little but must learn a lot immediately, much of my energy reserves go toward those left-brain exercises…not to mention the near-constant search for new work and worry about not having enough. Worry is a creativity killer, I’ve found.

But every writer has these problems. None of mine are unique.

That is what we tell ourselves, too, to sound lofty. To show that we understand the tribe. “I get it,” we writers say to each other and close our eyes in sympathy. Notice my sudden use of the word “we” instead of just owning it. A layer removed. If I say “I,” I might cry.

I’m coming back to writing today to peer down the silent well. What’s down there? What have I been overlooking? What roots cling with naked tenacity to the stone sides? What thin layer of muck at the bottom hides an ecosystem of blind and primitive creatures feeding off soil and water? What hides in the cracks, unbidden? I don’t know yet. I can’t see. My eyes need time to adjust.

I’m coming back to writing because it used to be that it could help me process my emotions, learn about myself, learn about others. But I am weary of others, weary of myself. And my emotions are on lockdown until I jab their soft underbellies with a choir singing Om So Hum, and only then do they release themselves and course in rivulets down my cheeks.

My grandmother died. I want to write about her. I cannot find the words.

And so I cry.

And yet everything is bound up. I don’t know from one month to the next what will make itself known. Where are my old notebooks with my old stories and essays? Where are those old swords piercing the veins of truth? But when I read them, I don’t recognize the words anymore. Who was I back then? What did I dream about? Where did I go?

I’m coming back to writing. Because I have to.

I’m coming back because Richard Bach says in Illusions, “I will not let you go until you set me, in words, on paper.” There is something…something…that has not let me go yet. Has chained itself to my ankle. Has let me drag it down the street and into my apartment and on vacation and into work meetings and into lazy-Sunday breakfasts where I can continue to ignore it, and ignore it, and ignore it if I want to.

But if I say it here—I’m coming back to writing—maybe the chain will break. Not to release the craft. Not the business. Not the façade of enterprise and ambition.

The roots, God damn it.

Maybe I will see the roots, the primitive mud creatures, the pearl in the furthest crack.

There.

Luminescent with meaning, round like the earth, cradled in the universe. Here for me to pluck and bring into the light.

126 thoughts on “Reditus

  1. I don’t agree about the cyclical view. Writing means more to me than breathing. But I’m in a different place from you — making final final revisions to a first novel a long time in the making . Maybe i’ll feel differently after i’m done with number two. Good lucknon the journey

  2. Great post. Keep it up. And as Dean Koontz put it beautifully in the book Lightning “Once an idea for a novel seizes a writer … well, it’s like an inner fire that at first warms you and makes you feel good but then begins to eat you alive, burn you up from within. You can’t just walk away from the fire; it keeps burning. The only way to put it out is to write the book.”

  3. Writing for me is a spiritual release. God gave me the talent to put words together in a way that is meaningful, poetic, and lyrical. To me by not writing I waste the talent I was given which in turn to me is like refusing to use it for the glory of God. I completely understand how you feel about just writing and letting it sit in a note book with no eyes reading your words, how ever it is not a waste of time being that something was in you that need to come out, so you wrote. That lead to something else, that lead to something else and so on. I enjoyed reading, keep on writing.

  4. Hi Amanda, I understand what you mean about the difficulty of writing about your grandmother. Have you tried to write a letter to her? That way you’re not worrying about who’s going to read it. It becomes just a message from you to her. Then once it’s written don’t read it again for a month or so. You can then read it with fresh eyes. You’ll be amazed at how good it will look to you when you’re a month or so older.
    I’m praying that God will give you the words. Just start to thank Him for the inspiration and the words will flow. Bless you.

  5. I went through a sudden death in my family this year. It’s true. It can change you in unexpected ways. It can leave you feeling like you have to find your way back to yourself… or accept the new you?

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