I don’t know how to not write.
I am not one of those creative types who sits her back end in a chair once she puts the kids on the bus and plants it there until noon. I cannot pound away at the keyboard because it is time for me to do that, because I have allotted x amount of hours toward my craft and will write, damn it!, whether inspiration follows or not:
I have absolutely nothing in my head right now, but I am pretending to be productive by creating sentences and phrases and entire story-looking lines of crap because all of the books say that I should do this, that I should type anything, anything at all, until the right words just flow. They all suggest that a true writer, one who writes not just for pleasure but for profit, will devote a set amount of time each day to her art. Personally, I think this is a load of shit. If there is nothing in my head, then I have nothing to say and should just keep it at that. The books always suggest not waiting for the muse, the muse being what some would call inspiration, because the muse is a fickle b-word who may just say she will come to the party, but then ditch you at the last second for something better.
I just can’t write like that.
No, writing for me is a bit like getting sick. I walk around awhile feeling not
quite myself, knowing that something is stirring inside me. Maybe it’s the guy with the nice ass in the coffee shop. Or it could be the look from the clerk in cosmetics when I break into warrior pose. Very possibly it’s that life-size copper bull in the back of that pick-up truck I passed on the highway. So, I walk around like this thinking, Hmm, I feel an essay coming on. Darn, and it’s such a busy day. I really don’t have time for this what with class and the lunch date downtown and that cross-country meet after school and all. Then, sure enough, it’s a full-blown blog in my head and to heck with the schedule. I must sit down and write. I will write, I know, until I finish. Then, with a dramatic flourish and even more dramatic sigh, I will come up for air and pronounce, Well, I am glad THAT’S over. I feel SO much better now.
I have a wonderful muse, I do, but she’s not very considerate of my time. And, truth be told, I’m not really even sure my writer’s inspiration is a she. I like to think of her with beautiful golden curls, a wisp of a white flowing gown, floating in magically when she takes a notion, but my personal version of creative motivation could just as easily be some dude in khaki shorts and an Oxford, checking his messages and telling me to get on with it because what do I think, I’m the only writer he has to motivate? Regardless, s/he provides me with no shortage of material. If only I could impress upon her/him the importance of timing.
Anyway, my muse shows up—whether she floats in gently on the afternoon breeze or he shoots me an email—and tells me that there are words in my head that someone needs to hear and that I need to put those words to print and set them to page. I never know who this someone is, and I never know why the words are so important, but I know that I need to get them down. I know that the message isn’t for every reader, but instead for the one the muse has chosen. I know, too, that my entire being will not rest until the words are out, that I will lie awake at night, scribbling phrases on index cards I keep in my bathroom and beside my bed, that I will mouth entire paragraphs while walking to class, that I will play with verbs, adjectives, and all manner of speech until I get absolutely the sound I am looking for and that, essentially, I will appear to the outside world as if I am not in my right mind. My muse is a tough taskmaster, one of those Catholic nuns taking rulers to knuckles for whining and procrastination, but I know the reason behind the madness---to cause another to look inside, to question, to laugh, to cry, to laugh until she cries or perhaps, even, the other way around---and I think I must write. I must put my words to print and put that print to page whether I am in my allotted hour or whether I am not.