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I Need to Write

posted Mar 29, 2018, 7:56 AM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Apr 9, 2018, 4:43 PM ]
I need to write—but, then why am I not writing? Sure. I write in my journal. Yeah. I write my newsletters. Ok. I create content for my website and have begun filling out the endless amount of forms that go along with trying to become a non-profit. I am constantly writing, but it is not that deep, focused, driven writing that I was doing only a few months ago. It is not a “project.” 

Sometimes I fall into this state of mind where if I feel myself being pulled in too many directions and so I resist sitting down with pad and pen or at my computer to create something purely for creativity’s sake. It feels too selfish—too frivolous. It’s as if I’m being stubborn. I can’t describe it. I am conscious that I haven’t really “written” in what feels like a long time. I want to get something going. Yes, another one of those “projects” that I resist calling a book or a novel. “Project” seems like so much less of a commitment. The expectations are lower. Project doesn’t sound like anything anybody would ever want to publish and so it won’t drag along behind me like an old teddy that’s been around so long it lost an ear and managed to gain five pounds of dead skin cells from too much loving and nuzzling. 

“Book” seems too precious a word. At the stringing together of any combination of words that would amount to having written a book there is the spark of excitement in the eyes of the owner of the ears that just heard “book” and some tense of the word “wrote” in a sentence together. I assure them that while I wrote something that I would categorize as a book—it has not been published. I don’t even say, “It’s not published yet.” “Yet” would at least represent even the most conservative amount of confidence in my own art form, but I back off partly out of superstitious hogwash and because I wouldn’t want to sound presumptuous or come off as a braggart who has not officially done anything worth bragging about. So, I say simply, “It’s not published.”

I think of the old question, “If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” And yet my situation is even more nitpicky than that. The words from my book have fallen into the eyes of a few readers and they read them. Some claimed to have enjoyed the words and encouraged me to, “Keep going.” “Amazing.” They say. But they are not editors. They are not agents. They are mere mortals. So I try not to get my hopes up.

And so I go about my life having covered what used to be a tree with words and letting it fall, but perhaps whether it makes a sound or not depends on which forest it has fallen in and if it was the only tree falling at the time. Perhaps a hundred trees went swiftly to the ground all at once along with mine and so who is to say that one tree could be heard with any distinction from any of the others falling along with it. There could be just too many trees falling. Too many branches cracking, leaves shushing and wafting and flapping like tiny flames on the journey they were pulled along on.

Writing is a bit strange. I’d hate to spend any more time on something that perhaps has already been a waste of my time. It is all up to some beholder that maybe I have not met, yet. Is this how every artist of every medium feels? There are just so many words in the world—so many. Maybe there are too many for anybody to really hear any, anymore. Why does art make us chase it so? I think it is because we are always chasing ourselves—trying to get a glimpse of who we really are. We want to know ourselves and we want others to know us and then to accept us for our true selves. 

That is why art draws us in. It is like a code or a secret language that makes us feel safe enough to reveal ourselves under its guise. It is the mask at a masquerade where our eyes are our own but not immediately recognizable. It’s just barely enough to make us feel safer to be ourselves. Art is that narrowest of material bordering our eyes and bridging our nose. Perhaps there are sequins and plumes of feathers or maybe there is just a thin, black plastic.  

Whichever—I must let trees fall where they may and masks await the next occasion and go back to the tasks of the day: clean the house, do the laundry—get a job. A real job. I really should do that.

But—I need to write.