In order for it to happen, it’s all gotta be perfect. Perfect meaning the climate in my house is ideal, an absolute silence has blanketed in my entire block and the coffee is strong enough to punch me in the face. That’s when I think it’ll happen. The “it” being writing. Then and only then is what my demanding diva mind says. I will settle for nothing less, dammit! So no wonder it’s hard to even start. God forbid my house is hot. Or I’m out of coffee. Or some neighbor is sawing the world’s longest and loudest piece of wood. Or my cats have for some reason decided to practice their wrestling moves on the dining room table. One little glitch in the system can throw off the whole machine. And that’s kind of what my week has looked like. Satan is currently giving Colorado an HGTV-style makeover so running around in the heat is something I try not to do. We, the husband, the cats and myself, are primarily concerned with staying under the ceiling fan and moving as little as possible. Then there’s this whole the world is going to shit thing that is currently happening and what could I write to possibly contribute to such horrific times? Add to it a general feeling of laziness and my three times a week publishing practice has nearly flown out the window.
Needless to say, I woke up this morning like my bed was on fire. I didn’t know what the fuck I was going to write. I didn’t know if the conditions were perfect. I didn’t know anything other than that I had to write. See, I made that promise to myself a month ago and I took it seriously. Or at the very least I wanted to take it seriously. So here I am in my cool,quiet house with strong coffee and snoring cats writing. Being creative my entire life, I’m always shocked when I start to self-sabotage the process. I know making stuff and telling stories makes me physically and mentally feel better and therefore easier to be around, nicer and less a pain in the ass. I know this in my core but I still resist it. As an addict and alcoholic, I sort of resist anything that makes me feel better. When I admit this to other people in recovery, sometimes jaws drop open. Like now that I’m sober, I’m not supposed to admit that sometimes I suck at being a beckon of light and sometimes I don’t want to do things that make me feel better. Besides, isn’t the whole idea of feeling better subjective? I mean, I feel better than I did 8 years ago when I was waiting tables and scraping bits of cocaine out of paper packets. But feeling better in a, “Wow! That kid has his shit together!” kind of way? Uh.
And yet the evidence suggests, I am better than I was and so is my writing practice. I spent a lot of this week feeling not up to snuff. Like I wasn’t doing enough to foster creatively and that my actions were slowing down my writing process. Quite the opposite actually. The great Gwendolyn Brooks talked a lot about how a writer’s education didn’t stop inside the halls of schools. In fact, in her mind, the real work of writing was experiencing life and then coming back with something to report. Bingo. I heard live music this week that blew my mind.
I went and walked around an art museum with my husband.
I watched the rest of Girls. I read new posts from my brilliant writing compadres. I kept waiting for a lightening bolt to write this week or some big push. Turns out, I was already doing that. I was pushing my damn self. I just didn’t realize it until now.
I guess what I’m getting at here is that my brain rarely tells the truth. Self doubt can slip in unannounced and wreck the whole party in mere minutes. However, I have been gifted with an emotional alarm system that now pushes me into doing things that make me feel better, even when (or especially when) I simply don’t want to do them. Being inspired at all times, as they tell us in 12 step programs, just ain’t gonna happen. This is fantastic news. This means everybody, even creative juggernauts who are so prolific it makes your head spin, get stuck and need a little push. The trick is to keep pushing. Push through sad times. Push through lazy times. Push through bad ideas, no ideas and even so good they scare you ideas.
Thus, on this Thursday in the middle of the weirdest summer of my life, I’m going to keep pushing. I hope you do too.