It Really Comes Down to "Just Write"
795 words. A 4 minute read.
I haven’t written in ten days.
Not a sentence, nor a paragraph, nor even just a few words. Not here on this blog, or in my notebook, or on my work-in-progress novel (is it a work-in-progress if progress has stopped altogether?). My little You Need To Write app tells me I need to write 920 words today to be on track. The words have not come effortlessly to me. The last time I put pen to paper, quite literally, was when I was drinking a Bloody Mary at Reagan National Airport waiting for my flight home to Boston.
Last night, I was waiting for someone at a restaurant. Instead of people watching while I sat, I pulled out my notebook (it’s never more than an arm’s reach from me), and I wrote. It was stilted and awkward, broken and forced but I got words out on the page. And that has led to this, putting words to a screen. It still feels stilted and awkward, but here they are, on the blog, in all their tarnished selves.
This past week and a half, I have thought a lot about this site. I’ve thought a lot about the future and what I want out of it. Going to Europe, not being offered the job in Prague, and questioning my skills as someone who has programmed for fifteen years led to questioning my talents as a writer; all these thoughts swirling around like a vanilla and chocolate ice cream cone on a hot summer’s day made my mind mushy and soft. I don’t wish it to be so but how others view me has, and always has had, an effect on my own self-worth. When the interviewer and potential boss had HR tell me I wasn’t a fit, it cracked a thin support beam in my head that held up self-worth, and that platform came tumbling down.
With that sitting flat in my stomach, I didn’t want to write. What is it all for? I asked. I’m not good at blogging about the ways and methods of writing, or nine different ways to outline a novel, or how to query a publisher. I don’t have any hard-won wisdom (yet). I don’t write anything that’s genuinely actionable and helpful (for that, Milly Schmidt or K.M. Allan are fantastic blogs to follow). The titles to my blog posts are often esoteric and not precisely related to whatever’s in the content. I write chaotically, without any real publishing schedule or effort to follow one. And, within each post, I am all over the place; how is it possible for anyone to follow my train of thought?!
But, I realized something this morning, as I was making coffee and mulling over these thoughts in my head. The name of the site is Wild Mind, for God’s sake (or fuck’s sake, if you prefer; I was trying to keep it clean this early in the morning). Writing and life do not take a straight path to their respective destinations. The circuitous route that both take make things a little wild, a little unpredictable. That unpredictability is what gives me excitement and enjoyment out of life.
Funny side note: I got to meet my brother's girlfriend's daughter last weekend. Before arriving, my brother sent a group text message to the family asking us to watch our language. My parents never swear so guess who that was meant for? I laughed and said I'd do my best. I think I mostly did okay.
Wild Mind. It is often the state of my own; the chaos engulfed between two ears and a foul mouth. When I started this blog six months or so ago, I’m not actually sure what I expected. To be honest, I’m surprised I’ve stuck with it for as long as I have—these things usually fizzle out in a month. But, I’ve stuck with it. I’ve pushed through the hard bits and lookie-loo, after ten days of not writing, here I am, back in the saddle again. These past six months have helped me become a better writer, even if I’m still having a hell of a time with Peri and Hyde in my novel (WTF wild mind?! Figure your shit out!).
It all comes back to the habit, doesn’t it? Just write. Pen to paper. Keystrokes on the screen. Day in, day out. Even on the days when nothing comes, especially on the days when nothing comes. When you feel fat and ugly and like the ass end of a sick dog. When you feel like your professional career went belly up after one interview. When you roll back into the mundane day-to-day existence after a trip around Europe. It’s the same answer for every one of those scenarios.