I’m writing again. Wait, let me say that with proper emphasis and maybe you will hear the awe and wonder and excitement that surrounds every word in that sentence with a sparkly aura of amazement and glee (and even notice the little shadow behind it that says quietly in a mournful Eeyore voice “but for how long?”): I. Am writing. Again.
I am writing words, that combine into sentences that comprise paragraphs that come together to fill up page after page with prose, that I wrote, that traveled from my head down through my neck and split up at my shoulders and zoomed down through my elbows and came barreling down my forearms and out my fingertips which move like lightning across the keyboard, every day.
Every day, for real. A thousand words, I am aiming for, and a thousand words I usually get, though sometimes less, but also sometimes more than that. I don’t know why it is happening, or how—well, technically I know how, because I’m there when I sit down with my computer on my lap and open up a word processing program and watch the words come out. But the why seems a little like magic.
I have been afraid to talk about it, because maybe talking about it will ruin it. Maybe it will come out like bragging, and maybe the universe will slap me down in a mighty way with the back of its mighty palm. Maybe I am afraid to jostle something with the talking, make someone, something, a somehow aware of me and under that laser-focus, possibly unfriendly attention, I will wither and die and it will all be over and I’ll tell my grandchildren Oh yes, thirty years ago, I wrote a couple thousand words! Wasn’t that nice?
There are certain ways you define yourself—by where you come from, by where you expect to go, by what you do, want to do, have done. I have always defined myself, for the most part, by the one thing I can do, and do well. The one talent I have that I will never truly doubt, the one ability that I possess that makes me feel okay about all the abilities I don’t possess, up to and including being able to walk in a straight line or remember things that happened ten minutes ago. I write. I am a person who writes. I might, if I am feeling okay or even, on sassy days, don’t give a shit about the possibility of someone maybe thinking I am pretentious, call myself a writer. It’s seriously what I do, and it is entirely who I am.
Writers write, though. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve written. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve felt like myself. A couple of years is far too long to go around with a giant chunk of yourself missing, and a huge part of yourself dedicated to feeling bad, feeling guilty, feeling a little lost and like everything is impossible, feeling like you don’t know who you are or why. Worrying that you’ve lost the only good part of yourself, for good, and worrying that you won’t ever get it back.
A promise of a thousand words a day to two friends who are also writers and who have made the same promise, whose projects inspire you. What is making me keep my promise? They are, to a huge extent. But what’s changed in me and for me? What made me say Let’s do this, and what makes me keep doing it? Part of me wants to know so that I can chain it up, tie it down, nail it to a board, promise it candy and money and sweets if it swears to never ever go away again. I am writing, and I don’t want to ever stop again.
photo by Gonzalo Barrientos, Flickr