There’s a twitchy, raw emotional thing that happens in me when I need to write. I can’t get comfortable in my own skin until I figure out what part of me needs to be scratched, massaged, dug out.
When you have just fallen in love, every love song is about you, your new and radiant union, your view from the mountaintop.
When you’ve just fallen out of love, or someone has fallen out of love with you, then every song is about what you once had, what was, what nobody else seems to know is waiting on the other side of the mountain.
When you want a baby, every woman around you is pregnant, round and growing, or sagging beautifully as she pushes a stroller or wears her baby like an accessory.
When I need to write, everything around me begs to be told.
Everything. Anything. Laundry. Socks. A slice of lime, dried and drained of its juice. The couple sitting next to me, arguing with a banter that they seem entirely comfortable with, as if it’s their normal tone, as if they’ve forgotten how to sound kind. The woman sitting across the room reading a book on organic gardening, highlighting voraciously.
And I don’t know what to write about,
and I don’t know what to write,
and I don’t know what wants to be written.
Sometimes I fear I’ve written myself into the widow’s niche, that this place of recovery and sadness and brokenness and healing and anger and joy is all anyone will ever let me say.
What if I want to write happy? About laundry and limes?
And then what if I want to write darkness the next day, even after I’ve trudged my way through the tunnel and seen light on the other side, even when I’ve shown the world that happy can win – what if darkness gets the day?
But what if I feel like I can’t say it because that lets darkness win again and I’m the girl who beat it once already? A million times already?
Mostly I just fear that I really don’t know what I’m doing.
Someday, somebody is going to blow the whistle, rigidly tap his clipboard with a pencil, wake me from my reverie and say, “You there – Tricia? Is that what they call you? Gig’s up. You’re no writer. Step on back, sister. Let the real artists have your spot at the corner table.”
Recently, I sat over a coffee cup with a true master in the field. He’s worked with so many writers that he doesn’t really need to anymore; it’s just that it’s nice to have a job.
“How long have you been writing?”
“Well, always, I guess. But I don’t have any formal training, really. I just love words. I took one class in high school, one class in college, and now I’m getting a graduate degree in writing.”
“And is that a good idea, do you think?”
I think I didn’t answer. I didn’t hear my voice respond.
“I mean, clearly it’s your path. And that’s okay. I’m just telling you, I’ve seen many a good writer who has been destroyed by a graduate writing program. Don’t trade your giftedness for what can be taught.”