A few thoughts on writing…
It rained all day in Nusa Lembongan. The Mangroves swayed in the rising full moon tides. As the tide receded in the late afternoon, I could see only remnants of rebar and rope, a cemetery of coastline, destroyed by the seaweed harvests for the Japanese beauty market.
As the rain teased circles from the pool, I read a novel, The Muse, set in London 1967, my imagination wasn’t as taken by the story as the tantamount sentences, beautiful rainbows of vocabulary. But wait, by chapter five I’m hooked. I want to write like her, I want to write delicious sentences before a third cup of tea.
Mia wore her t-shirt: I USED TO BE A HIPPY and some striped leggings. I watched her dance along the edge of the infinity pool. Ketut, the house manager is bringing us plates of Mie Goreng—fried noodles with pieces of shrimp and capsicum, spicy and tender. He walks over with conscientious strides in the rain. He covers the plate with a hovering hand.
I think a lot of people don’t write because they don’t know where to start. Or where to end. But as Hemingway said, “Write one true sentence,” which works for me every time. Writing is my stake in the ground, my line in the sand, my escape from cliché ha. It sobers me and drunkens me all at the same time. It’s what I wish I could do more of and what I avoid most. It’s not enough to be a writer, but it turns me on like nothing else. I seek it and run from it, chasing inspiration and dodging it as if doubting it was the drug.
There’s simply too much to write. There’s simply too little time to write the too much. I love it so much I avoid it as if gaining a moment of its delicate flavor would undo me. I dreamt of being a writer when I was young and now that I can write when I want to, I dream of retiring so I can write more, longer, better. I drink wine and dream of writing when I should drink tea and just sit my ass down to do it.
I wait for my agent to give me feedback on my writing. I publish other writers. I do have the most sophisticated procrastination model on the planet. I worry the planet is being used up by the likes of Tr*mp, Put*n, the rest of the fuckers. I do all of this to avoid what might happen if I just sit down and write a true sentence. What would that true sentence be today? What is true?
What is true is that I don’t want to be just a writer, and I think most people decide it’s just one thing they will do, one day. And so we work, a lot. Because writers always seemed to be “struggling” as we watched them from our upbringings, our perches of growing up. Writers, I thought, had to give up shopping binges and bling because they never really “succeed.” Writers tended to want more and have less, in my optics. Writers tended to write what got rejected unless they had the “training,” the talent, and the inborn genius that was metered out in tiny drops by the elusive writing fairy. Writers tended to have day jobs unless they became one of the “chosen few” that “made it.” But let us write, daily, in our journals, in the world, in the ways that make us shine. Because writing is about healing, making our voices heard, and lighting the passageway.
Because if we don’t write, we become stuck on the outcome of what might or might not surrender itself. Reality is written by the ultimate writer, and yet we doubt our ability in the wake of being the creator’s offspring. We choose to want it rather than to have it. As if the wanting was the delirious foreplay we can’t give up to the orgasm. We make it a “thing” when it’s really just a practice.
I wait for inspiration and wonder to strike as if it is on an allowance from a stingy God. I wait for a writing retreat to write. I wait for the emails to stop, and they never do. I wait to write, I wait until the kids are asleep, or for the dog to stop barking, or for my stream of consciousness to be somehow edited, justified, permitted. But none of this matters. It’s like waiting for the rain to stop or for the internet to blow up.
I wait for the journal entry to inspire me. I wait for better sentence structure and for the kids to be in college. I worry my way out of writing. I worry about Sage’s health and lack of schooling and Mia’s temper. If I could write anything, what would it be? If you could write anything, what would it be? What if we wrote for the sake of itself and gave up the desire for it to bring us a dream? What if the pen on paper was the dream?