Nebraska and why we write

July 17, 2010

I never slept well in Alaska because of the light so I got caught up last night and then swam a mile. There is an Olympic pool that I plan to swim a mile every day in here. I love it. I might run too. There’s a Christian group here and their kids were swimming too. Here’s what I saw that the moms who were huddling at the other end completely missed. The two dark haired moms and one over dressed blond mom were ignoring the five girls and one boy. They were all probably middle school except the small girl. The boy wore goggles underwater; there evidently things he wanted to see, he was the only one with goggles. The girls jumped into the pool, great splashing jumps, but when the boy arrived, they took off their shorts, stripped down to their bikinis. To the boy, they all stretched out their arms, they competed for his attention. He was just a boy, but he was the only boy there. They struggled to get his attention; he dived underwater with his goggles. Good times. Four girls reached for one boy; one was too small to swim. He seemed okay. I think he was learning a lot about life.

 There’s a sauna I might try tomorrow, even a spa; I long for one of these spa treatments; if I were in a different income bracket, I would be all over it. If I were a screen writer, or an actor, things would be different.

Should there be so many MFA programs? There only are these programs in America where people have enough time/money to decide to be writers. Now what about developing other marketable skills that might be useful like say, playing professional poker or making tequila. Both very important skills.

Writing is one of those activities you could stop and as I’ve mentioned, nobody would notice. If you stop being a mom, your kids notice, if you stop being a lover, trust me, you get complaints, if you stop being a writer, you don’t hear a whimper, not a bang, not a sob, not a cry. So if you write, you have to do it because your own wild imagination and intellect are speaking to you like a huge heart beating wildly, like that sonic boom you hear underwater that’s whales talking to each other.

Making movies or music is bigger and creates a lot of noise in the world so it’s very popular and I can see why. A lot of people can hear what you’re doing and then there’s this giant throbbing in the universe, they can hear your story, your song, your dream is spoken. But if you choose to write, you’re choosing to be in a quiet room unless you’re Stephanie Meyer or Dan Brown—and let’s face it, how many of those are there… ? you are writing in a lonely room because you want to so choose your words carefully.

Writing is like being in love—the good part comes on the other side—you have to keep writing to get there—when you’re first in love you fall in love, it’s all nice, then the struggle begins, many people don’t get too far past that… after a few years they quit. That’s it. They never get to the good part where you are wild about someone you know and you’re crazy good with. That’s the same way with writing.

Mary Oliver says that the first part is like Romeo and Juliet meeting in the orchard to kiss. You have to meet a lot to get good at meeting. That’s how writing is. Keep meeting, keep writing, keep those moments when your fingers touch the keyboards and then you’ll know how to do it carefully, exquisitely, like the dreams you wake from when you are flying and you know it is no dream, you can fly.

But back to getting to the other side…. If you only write once in a while, you never get to the part where writing pulls at you, where writing is a joy. You’re always on your fourth or fifth marriage slogging along. You have to write on a regular basis, get through the rough parts and keep writing. Like Haruki Murakami and Calvino and Doris Lessing. Keep writing when you’re old, when you’re not in the mood, write. It won’t all be good, and that’s okay too.

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Published in: on July 17, 2010 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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