On Hold

I’ve been told to write.


But write what?


I’ve taken a few months off from my blog, from journaling, and from pretty much anything else that is “writing”. The other day I wrote a bio for Camille’s band to put on their website. Today Paul complimented me on it. I’ve barely read anything in the past few weeks… so my goal of reading 104 books by the end of the year seems to be dwindling.


I just feel out of practice. And out of touch with what I want to say.


What do I want to say?


Maybe a better word would be “ask”.


It seems to me that most authors have this compulsion to write in order to answer a question: Why do people suffer? Why did our relationship fail? Why don’t we do the fun things we used to? How do I make this life have meaning?


Or: what would it be like if I wrote a novel completely wasted? What would happen if I dressed a character in a yellow polka dot dress and never let him change? What if I try to retell this story and I can’t unravel a new, authentic ending for it? Does that mean that I failed?


Does it mean that I’ve failed?


I ran into one of my writing professors a few months ago now at a fiction contest that Creative Loafing held. She won with this beautifully tragic story about a woman who lost her child. The last time I heard her read it was something funny, had my sides splitting and my eyes watering and I kept thinking, “This woman owns me with her pen.” The night of the Heat reading she owned me again… but I wasn’t laughing… She made several grown men in the room tear up and admit it freely to her. (I heard one say it).


After the reading I waited to congratulate her and say hello. She was so genuinely excited to see me I almost cried again.


I read these quotes by famous or dead or famously dead authors about the compulsion to write. The bleeding need to put pen to paper everyday or suffer the consequences of feeling stymied and lost. And I’ve never truly identified with that. Maybe I’m delusional but I don’t feel a daily compulsion. Recently I’ve felt a daily guilt that I haven’t been writing… I think about this one idea for a novel that I have on a regular basis. But rather than write it, even an outline or a rough draft, or something, I sit on my bed with my shiny new iPad and play Draw Something or Words with Friends – something inane to pass the time because it doesn’t require so much of me.


Writing does. It takes so much bleeding effort. I feel drained at the end, not refreshed. Deflated, not energized. Like I’ve just poured out everything of worth and I have nothing left and the passion and speed with which I’ve written is barely noticeable on the page.


And I can type pretty quickly. Mavis Beacon taught me how.


I’ve been reading this series of novels featuring a character named Thursday Next. The series is by Jasper Fforde. He’s funny, well, British and funny. The books are a little off kilter. I got Jenna to read them and she’s actually outpaced me now.

Thursday can jump into fiction. Fiction is all stored in The Great Library. The curator is the Cheshire Cat (or the Cat formerly known as Cheshire, depending on the book). The bottom-most level of The Great Library is called The Well of Lost Plots. It’s the place baby novels, ones barely in their inception reside, either waiting for the author to come into being and actually write them down or, usually, just finish the manuscript. The characters in the Well have a special brand of insecurity: they live under the constant threat of being dismantled for use in another plot by some other author. It almost makes you feel bad for them.


I feel bad for mine. I’m not sure I’ll ever have the courage to completely commit them to paper. I’m constantly afraid of what that might mean.


I don’t know.


All I know is that I was told to write. So, I’ll write. I’ll be faithful in the writing. And maybe that will be something. Maybe that will be enough.

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