I’m freezing up. I don’t know what to write. I feel I need to read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, buy Moby Dick, read that too, swear off the computer and write in my notebooks by hand. Or take some narcotic that will mess with my brain.
Last fall I started this blog out of boredom at my internship, but it turned into a place for me to voice my opinion. And it was a time to have opinions. I was in Chicago when Obama was elected. My blog posts were charged with a life force other than my own, and tons of people were reading them and commenting. That has died down, and my skepticism always holds me back from getting so enthusiastic, out of fear that I could be wrong.
Since graduating college with a bachelor’s in English, I’ve felt my only career choice was writing, that it was my only skill. In college, the advisers always said you have to be a good writer but just as important, you have to know something else–so you can write what you know. It has to be married with something else.
But what? There are so many topics to choose, so many audiences to address. Adolescent girls, vacationers, tree huggers, job-seekers, taoists, evangelicals, liberals, hippies, pregnant women. I could write about other cities, my own city, musicians, books, photos, websites, recipes, mantras, Bible stories, Muslim culture, glass candy dishes, antique shopping, bicycles, land use…I could write about how my head is swirling like a Philip Glass soundtrack and how the scenes in my dreams are going by too fast and all the flame-thoughts burning in my mind, eating away any complete and tangible thought until I’m frozen and glassy eyed, red veins pulsing but no blood pumping….
But I think I already have the answer, Glinda. I think I need to live my life.
Poet Mystic Jack Ridl, my poetry professor in college, told me that writing is his last priority. Everything in life but writing wins over writing. Writing is our tool, not our life. Some people are ridiculously talented with this tool, and we could get jealous of them. Or we could focus inward for awhile and reprioritize:
Taoists tell us to live in the moment. “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life,” says Omar Khayyam. I have to stop. I have to stare out at a sea. I have to wash the dishes to the best of my ability and focus on my hands, the water, the gorgeous bubbles, the smooth glass. I have to listen to what others are saying. I have to listen to what my mind is saying. My mind is trailing off in dreamlike patterns, to places I choose to ignore when I am internet-writing.
I must chase those storm patterns. I must be silent and listen before I can speak.