Stand and Be Still

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Image by Daybreak Studios (Dawn & Brad Wallace); Courtesy of Red Dress Boutique (Lookbook Winter 2012). And yes, that’s me.

I read once that writer’s block doesn’t exist. The author eloquently insisted that it’s merely a myth, perpetuated by those lazy souls whose inner worlds are content enough to stay put where they are, or simply that those creations don’t exist. The make-believe writers, as it were, would rather watch television, play with their phones, goof off on Facebook, or brood over their latest Comment War on Goodreads. According to some, it’s all a matter of will.

That’s a nice safe thought isn’t it? If we just want it badly enough then we’ll never have to worry about coming to the keyboard with empty stores. We will never be one of those writers who piss and moan about being unable to unleash the tension that builds like a sore pimple, or be unable to soothe the ache that rivals even the rottenest tooth. No, not us … because we love writing, and life can never come between a human being and something they love. That’s never happened. How do we know that writer’s block is nonsense for the unmotivated? Because we’re in a fast food, my-way-right-away world that has taught us that we can become whatever we want, whenever and however we feel fit. We can do anything. We can overcome anything. If we gather enough courage, we can defeat even the darkest night, or the most malevolent monsters.

But what if those demons … those dark places … are part of a much larger story than the one we’re penning? What if that sneaking suspicion, that inkling, that we are all far more important than merely the sum totals of our goals, ambitions, and talents, is not just true, but deeply, startlingly real? And the point of everything?

Have you never encountered such change in your world that it leaves you fighting for breath? Have your dreams never failed you? Has your gut instinct never been desperately wrong? Have you never felt the sting of true disappointment? Do you know so little of love, death, loss, and a thoroughly lived life, that you cannot imagine it taking every second of your time just to continue to inhale and exhale? If not, then from where are you penning your work? What well of strength exists if you’ve never felt nearly tapped dry? How shallow must your existence be if you’ve never had to look deeper for the answers than merely your strength of will; if you’ve never had to search farther than your level of desire?

Writer’s block is nothing more than a prolonged pause. It’s the silence between the end of one paragraph, and the beginning of another. It’s the breath between the last page of book one, and the prologue of book two. It is not the end. It is not forever. But it is, what it is. It cannot be rushed, anymore than the flow of effective narrative should be rushed. We’re writers, authors, storytellers … we are not machines.

Truth is, sometimes life steps in to make us better people, and that takes an awful lot of effort and skill to survive. Some days, merely making it to dinner is enough. Those days are not the stuff of idleness … not really … they are full of moments so heavily laden with existing, that to add one more ounce of life to them would be enough to break the bough and bring it crashing into the ether.

I couldn’t have imagined two years ago, in 2011, how drastically my own soul could transform. Nor was I aware of how deeply rooted my faith in humanity really was. I would have told you that when it came down to it, I was capable of utter cruelty if betrayed. I know better now. After the moment came and went, I can tell you without any hint of irony that it is beyond my capacity. I apparently bark far louder than I bite. Go figure.

Two years ago, I thought I knew where life was taking me. I could easily spout out the next twenty years of my life, and what all it would entail. I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. The extraordinary life that always taunted the edge of my desire was closer than I could have dreamed. I was more like the woman I’d always wanted to become, than I have ever given myself credit for.

I never do anything halfway. I am not afraid of trying new things, or experiencing new aspects of this incredible journey we call living. I’ve been criticized for never remaining the same, for latching on to an idea, and then just as quickly latching on to another one. I’m no less a writer than when I had the privilege of writing full time. But now I’ve broadened my horizons enough to encompass massage therapy, photography and freelance fashion writing. Bottom line, I refuse to stay static. That’s how I deal with this … pause … between books. I write as a paid freelancer, and brainstorm ideas for new work, and jot down scenes for the unfinished works when I can, all waiting for the moment when I can again focus on crafting worlds more often than not.

But this time, it will be from the standpoint of a full time mother. That will never change. Once that shift has occurred, you cannot go back. Becoming pregnant has formed a meridian line that will forever mark my life as a before and after. And it isn’t the first. Since August of 2011, I can count at least five of them. Every one of them has been a huge, life-altering kind of change. I haven’t blogged about all of them because some of them are too private, and the others involve people who likely wouldn’t appreciate the mention. Does that make me less a writer? Of course not. But, writer’s block doesn’t exist.

Right … and neither do critics.

Live so that you have no other choice but to write, even through the imaginary tales of another world, your own story of love, loss, and life. Let the ebb and flow of holistic writing take over and forget about the modern world of “everything within reach.”

Because frankly, I don’t want what’s in reach. Been there, lost that. I don’t want what’s easiest to obtain. And I doubt you do either. Don’t buy into the lies. This calling in life is not easy. You were never promised a rose garden; I don’t care what that agent’s blog told you. Don’t settle for lab-created writing … you are capable of nothing less than authentic diamonds, and those take time. Valuable things take pressure, and heat and patience for the best possible outcome. There are no quick fixes here.

Does this mean there is nothing to be done?

No, not at all. You must merely show up, daily, and if nothing is there, return home and prepare to show up again. For as long as it takes, you must only be present. Eventually, when the breath comes, so too will the words. Until then, stand and be still.  

7 responses

  1. Beautifully written, as usual :) I remember a long time ago, before that August you mention, of discussing writer’s block with you. You gave me great advice, which helped, even though it took me six months to write another word. I hope you used it too, and I’m so glad to see how much you’ve grown. You’re beautiful!

  2. The Wife Unit was six months pregnant with out first child, three months of that barfing at the mere whiff of fish or some other smell that seemed to change on a weekly basis. One weekend, I came home from the grocery store and she was sitting on the couch with tears rolling down her eyes. I asked her what’s wrong?

    “I just can’t think. I wanted to do something today but I can’t even remember what it was,” she said.

    Now, keep in mind the Wife Unit is one smart lady. She’s highly creative and spooky-smart. She’s a mathematician and a software engineer. At this time in her life she was making thousands of more money than me per year (yeah, I married up).

    I wanted to laugh,but laughing at an upset woman carrying your child can be fatal. “Babe,” I said, “you are literally at the apex of our planet’s biological evolution cycle. Maybe what you’re supposed to do today is relax and cook a baby?”

    “Okay,” she said.

    “So how about we watch a movie?”

    “Okay.”

    “Rosemary’s Baby?”

    “No.”

    “Alien?”

    “No!”

    “Damien One through Three?”

    “Shut up.”

    “Pride and Prejudice?”

    “Okay.”

    (Damn it)

    Half-way through the movie: “I want a baked potato. With bacon bits, chives, butter and shredded cheddar cheese. And sour cream.”

    “For dinner?”

    “PUT IT IN THE OVEN NOW.”

    “But I already put it in the oven, heh, heh, heh.”

    “You are moments from death.”

    “One baked potato, loaded, coming up.”

    Heh. Fun times, fun times.

  3. I love this post! I’ve missed hearing from you and am glad to see that life is treating you wonderfully, you deserve it! What wonderful news! Congratulations on the pregnancy, when are you due? I’m due November 21st and will be pretty soon trying to meet deadlines sleep deprived along with juggling the day job. The joys of being a writer :)

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