Gina has Gone Skiing in Switzerland this week, so I’ve been left to my own devices over Here on the right side of the page. Part of me considered taking the week off, too. I thought about putting up a Gone Hiking sign (or, a more truthful, Gone on a Law & Order: SVU Marathon one), but then I decided that I’d dig deep and just Keep Posting (and if that saying is not on a sign yet, somebody should go make it). But the truth is, it is so so so much easier to get motivated to write when I know that Gina is waiting for my draft to show up on her Dashboard. It’s like having a gym-buddy. Or being a henchman.
I’m the eldest of the siblings in my family. So: hyper-responsible. Achievement-oriented. Anxious and oftentimes tense. Probably decent traits for a writer–and a writing partner–to possess. Gina’s the oldest in her family, too, so this blog is golden when it comes to accountability. I want it to be golden when it comes to creativity and innovation, too. And that means I have to hold up my side of the page–even when I’m flying solo. Even when I’d rather watch Benson & Stabler kick some rapist’s ass.
So, here I am. Looking at the far side of a week without the conversations with my friend that this blog bestows. It’s not a coincidence that, for the first time since we launched this thing last month, I’m forcing myself to write today. I’m not inspired by a Skype conversation or an email exchange with my friend. I don’t get to bounce my ideas off of hers, looking for truth in the tea leaves of our collaboration. I feel unmoored. Uninspired. Guilt-ridden.
This despondency has made the words of a poem that I love dance through my head like sugarplums. The poem is titled so you want to be a writer? and was written by Charles Bukowski (I imagine he’d abhor that I’ve likened his word to something so sweet). Anyway, here’s part of what he says:
when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.
(to read the full text of the poem click here.)
In his poem, Mr. Bukowski is talking about writing. The whole piece pleads with a fledgling writer to not write one line of a poem or sentence of a story or, perhaps even, character of a Tweet, until the words are pushing so hard against your gut that, eventually, they come bursting out of you…out of your soul, like a rocket.
In addition to that all sounding a little bit hot (sorry mom), it’s a pretty compelling way to not only think about writing, but to think about living…waiting until you are certain of an idea or an argument or a purchase or a job or of ANY decision you need to make before you act or argue or buy or say ‘yes’.
So, in homage to the poet and to my friend Gina who is careening down a mountain in the Alps, here’s the experiment I’ll be conducting this solo-ish week on the HERE side of Living Here and There (-ish because Gina might be popping in and out with photos of fondue and fun from time to time). In the midst of this job search of mine, in the midst of this cold, snowy, endless, no-other-choice-but-to-soul-search winter (and of my writing-poetry experiment) I’m going to commit to, for the rest of this week, only acting and writing and arguing and living when I’m utterly moved to do those things. And because I’m pretty weak-willed and trash-TV-prone I’m giving myself strict parameters for permissible activity during the sure-to-be immeasurable hours of not-acting (not-writing/arguing/living) that will make up the next seven days.
When I’m feeling ambivalent about how to act and what to be, I will choose to only do one of the following three things: take a walk outside, play with the watercolor paints I’ve purchased but never wet or read one of the dozen books that are waiting to be opened on my desk. I guess staring into space is something I will allow myself to do, too.
I’m a little bit nervous that this is going to quickly turn into an internet/email/Facebook-trolling fast as well, but I’m game for it if it does. After all, it’s only a week.
[Geez-us! How I wish I could check in with Gina about all of this right now.]
Anyway, I’ll keep you…ahem….posted.