Ever struggle with writer’s block? It’s all part of the process. I wrote mine a letter…
Dear Writer’s Block,
I need to flow again. I reconnected with my voice out in my solo spot on my Vision Quest some eight years ago. I had fluidity and creativity. I filled an entire journal in just ten days. I wrote nonstop. Except for that one moment when I lost my pencil out in the dark, when that man-child who lured me out of my marriage walked into my camp and stole my breath away. Right in the midst of my death ceremony. He was my muse — I knew that from the first time I’d read his writing about trees in our ecopsychology class. He was in a lot of my pain and he wrote beautifully about it. I could relate to it. Something opened up in me and kept on opening. Right on through my own pain.
Which, I then wrote of, for four or so years hence. Until I got busy with things like real estate and getting remarried. I don’t write quite like that anymore and I miss it. I could hear my soul back then.
Now, I feel like it’s been padded over by the pounds I’ve put on since that extraordinary lean time of suffering and reexamining my life. I was living well out of my comfort zone and writing about it was the only way I could cope. Hearing the voice of my own soul kept me alive. Literally. It was the thing that saved me from death by divorce.
Must a writer always be in drama and pain to create?
I just want to be able to write like that again. Must I prick my own finger, causing some kind of pain to get there? Back then, three days of solitude, with just my and me out on the trail, ’til I just had to stop and write, was all it took to get it to flow again. You know, that feeling of spent and spoken? I’d return to the trail and onward we’d go, just me and the dogs and the birdsong overhead. I’d spend days like that — sometimes, nights too. Insomnia comes with transformation. That is, those nights I didn’t spend in artificial companionship of Meredith and Dr. McDreamy. Grey’s Anatomy was a great comfort show. Now, it’s just getting repetitive and boring.
So what happened to all that flow? I’m still me. I still want to write — only these days, there’s so much to write about, I can never decide.
Back then, it was easy. Life was one traumatic wave of events after another, so writing about any of it was a means of processing it all. I didn’t have to choose — there was always material at the ready.
From the 180 man-child maneuver to the four years of healing post-divorce to the countless breakups to wandering jobless to self-growth and suicidal despair, writing about any of it was rich with emotion and passion and most of all, intensity. It was a rich time — and not a moment I miss of any of it.
See, I think that’s part of the problem. Writing with intensity feels a writer it does make. Now, I expect everything I’m producing currently to be as intense. I want to write with the same level of clarity and motivation, to feel moved and inspired or so strongly about something that I cannot not write about it.
And here’s the thing, Mister Block — I care passionately about a number of things in this world. Yes, it’s true — mostly, it’s about animals and the homes in which they live, from the domestic ones to the wild places. I care about preserving the ones they have or helping them find one they can call their own. I know having a sense of place and belonging is essential to their well being in the world, from being left alone to live in it peacefully or to thrive in it with love and a good daily walk outside.
From the wild places to the domestic ones, from the wolves on the Alaska Wildlife Refuge to the dog on my couch, a sense of peace and belonging is what makes them thrive. And sometimes in this administration of buffoonery or a world where people forget how many animals will die at our hands for want of place to belong, helping them preserve place or find it all feels a wonderful, worthwhile effort.
So maybe, Mister Block, the key to writing strongly as I did before is to stay engaged in what I care about. I know, I know — I have a tendency to turn away if the sense of helplessness or overwhelm gets SO BIG I just cannot stand it. I try to balance it out, Mister Block. Because here’s the other thing — during that time I wrote the way I felt was at my best, it was also an emotionally traumatic period. So I don’t want to go back to it. I just want my writing to have that level of emotional energy and passion.
Does that make sense, Mister Block?
I’m not sure how you are feeling at this point in the breakup. Usually at this stage, someone is crying while the other is gaining even more clarity. Usually, the clarity brings more certainty — making the other one well, cry harder. They know it’s over and they’re about to be left alone — which thought typically elicits convulsing, racking sobs. For who wants to be left alone in this world?
Only someone who was really damaged, like a car accident on a busy highway. And then, they never want to get back in a car again.
I digress — where was I? Dealing with your heartache, trying to understand it? That sounds like me, always psychoanalyzing another instead of paying attention to my own pain. So the thing is, Mister Block, you WILL get over the breakup — our breakup — eventually. You’ll learn that I just needed space to grow and understand that you really were standing in my way. I know you didn’t mean to — much the way you’re not meaning to clog my head with too many details and information that I have no flow — sometimes, it just naturally happens. It takes time to realize that this is what has happened.
So for now, Mister Block, let’s say, sianara. I think that’s how you spell it. Let’s bid each other farewell, if only for now, or agree to disagree, or agree we can just stay friends for a while. Because who knows, sometimes every writer needs a block that is also a friend — to remind herself of the directions to turn or when to stop and refuel. And it feels better if it’s a friendly face rather than an errant stranger. The world’s already full of too many strangers, and not enough friends…
So, let’s agree to be friends, Mister Block, friends that will meet again…