Sunday, February 19, 2012

Needing to Want

“Through joy and through sorrow, I wrote. Through hunger and through thirst, I wrote. Through good report and through ill report, I wrote. Through sunshine and through moonshine, I wrote. What I wrote it is unnecessary to say.”    --Edgar A. Poe

I’ve been struggling to write—to start writing, to finish writing, to post what I do write.   At the risk of sounding smug, this is a personal hazard of being happy.   I’ve said for years that writing is my best therapy (and it’s cheaper).  At least 90% of anything substantial I’ve ever produced was a result of some sort of tumult in my life.  I hurt, so I write.  I rage, so I write.  I’m lost, so I write.  Right now, though, I’m in a good place, and it doesn’t feel temporary as it has so many times in the past.  I don’t feel like this peace and contentment is a fluke or something precariously hanging in the balance, dependant on a set of carefully constructed circumstances.  It feels real, tangible.  The downside, of course, is that my writing is suffering.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade my life right now for the ability to write the best-selling book of all time.  I do miss writing, though.  It’s frustrating to sit and stare at the screen, the cursor blinking, taunting me.  When I do finally manage to slap a few paragraphs on the page, I can’t finish.  I either find myself overwhelmed, unable to organize my thoughts into anything coherent, or I hit a mental wall and give up altogether.  The two or three times lately that I’ve finished something, I’ve lacked the courage—or maybe the conviction?—to post it for others to read.   

When I’ve experienced writer’s block in the past, I’ve just ridden it out, knowing that a time would arrive when writing would be both possible and necessary.  But this time, as cliché as it sounds, I feel like I’ve started a new chapter in life.  Hell, maybe I’ve started a new book.  It’s not that I’m so near-sighted that I believe life will be hunky dory from now on.  I know there will be pain and heartache and challenges and trials.   I just don’t plan on bringing all of that shit on myself and on those I love anymore.  Being happy and peaceful is the best high I’ve experienced.   Life is hard enough without me making drama and discord.  

So here is where I stand as far as writing: do I set it aside and only return to it as a crutch when life does get difficult or do I somehow find a way to channel these feelings into words? 
I can barely remember a time in my life when I didn’t write.  As soon as I learned to put letters together and form words, I was scribbling songs and stories.  And while I don’t consider myself to have any kind of remarkable talent, writing is my only ability for which I have even an ounce of pride. It is a gift passed on to me by my father.  What right do I have to just pretend it no longer exists?

No, I can’t just stop writing.

But on the other hand, I don't know if I can write just for the sake of writing.  I have to feel it.  Anything significant or meaningful that I’ve ever produced—anything I’ve composed that spoke to even one person—poured out of me.  Writing is liberating for me, my sidewalk back to sanity.  It’s how I deal with darkness and doubt.  Whether I am raging or drowning, writing saves me.    It’s a way of talking to myself without feeling like I’m losing touch with reality   I am thankful that I have the ability to write when I need to write, when it is crucial for me to stay grounded through words.  But why, when I am at peace, is the rope on my creative bucket too short to reach the water in the writing well?  Why, when I so desperately want to write, am I unable to do so?   The emotions I’m feeling right now—the joy and fulfillment and serenity—are just as powerful as what I’ve felt in darker days.  I’ve longed to experience these emotions, to feel this alive.  My heart feels like it’s going to explode sometimes. Why can’t I channel this into my writing? 

I’ve always written selfishly, drawing from whatever is going on in my life in an effort to get through it.  It’s never my intention to produce something that speaks to someone else, though I feel blessed when another person connects with my words.  Maybe my writing needs another purpose, one that isn’t so damned self-centered.  Maybe I have something to say, something to share. 

I just don’t know where to begin. 

1 comment:

Jane Flatt said...

Amber, maybe it's time for your writing to take a selfless direction and be an aid to others? You are experiencing true happiness and contentment with your life, and this may be the most powerful time of your life to put those feelings into written word for others to "see" through your words that this feeling is real and attainable for them! Just food for thought as you examine your writing ability. I love to read your thoughts and know I'm not alone here. Good luck!