It’s been months since I’ve written. Amended: it’s been months since I’ve written anything beyond an obituary, and that particular piece needed the courage that a bottle of wine provides. There have been a variety of reasons: I’m too busy and there’s crap at work and my mother is dying and the house is dirty, blah blah blah. I should have been writing through all of it and instead I’ve written through none of it. I’ve written plenty in my head, sure, but nothing made it to the fingers and onto the page. I have a novel ready for heavy editing. A flash non-fiction piece ready to send out for hopeful publication. A creative non-fiction book in the early stages of interviews and transcribing. A million short stories and essays backlogged in my brain, all fighting for air.
And yet. Nothing. It was easier to lose myself in work and in cleaning the house and laundry and purging the basement. I’ve cleaned up/out my office multiple times, getting it “ready” for writing. Then I feel tired and I close the door, leaving bare surfaces just begging for clutter yet again.
The one thing I have remained faithful to, the one thing for myself, is the 365 I committed to back on January 1. I have made a photograph every day this year, even on the days when it was the last thing on earth I felt like doing. I maintained that one meager thread, that one filament, to my creative side, to me, and I’m so glad I did.
I have also lost myself in books and friends, both of which I find necessary for survival, especially right now. When my mother died, so much love and support swelled around me that I just let go and floated on the waves. I relaxed into the arms of those surrounding me, and watched as people tried to share the burden of my pain, tried to lessen my hurt even if just a little bit. It was extraordinary, and made me grateful that I can recognize and accept love even when feeling unmoored. My mother struggled with that, so I am especially thankful that I do not.
Where I am right now is complicated. I’ve been using that word a lot lately to describe my relationship with my mother, which is true despite sounding trite and Facebooky. But the complication goes beyond my mother and the feelings I experienced (and still experience) when losing her (beyond losing her to Alzheimer’s, which happened long ago) and extends to other areas, and I have to be intentionally vague right now and I’m okay with that, and I hope you are, too. Please know that I do not like feeling silenced, feeling as though my voice is not my own. It will pass, although I believe the days of laying bare my soul have gone forever. As I grow older, I become less inclined to lay it all out there. This means I have great doubt when I write. It used to be easy: if a thought entered my mind it went down on paper, for better or worse. There was very little editing. Now, though, I agonize over the words. Not the words themselves, those still come easy to me, but the ability to tell my own story while respecting the stories of others. My stories are intertwined with others, and I worry about crossing the line, respecting the personal histories of those around me, much more than I ever did before. With age comes wisdom…and reticence.
I’m going to try tackling editing the novel now. I’ve put it off for far too long, but the house is clean and the laundry is nearly caught up and my office is set and I’ve run out of excuses. I’m also telling myself to let go of this and post it out on my site. It’s not perfect, and it’s probably not even entertaining, but it’s where I am. At least I have written something.