“There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” ~Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith
In a defiant act of utter desperation, I am procrastinating at the task of writing by writing.
This may seem ludicrous to the casual observer, but it’s almost instinctual to me. My favorite thing is to play with a puzzle of words, so why not put a few down on paper and kill some more time? Makes complete sense.
Writing, of course, is more than just assembling letters into words and moving them around until your seventh grade English teacher would be happy. Writing is fun, which I am hoping this exercise will turn out to be! You can observe the world with any number of perspectives; you can make jokes about the little ironies of life; sometimes you can even weave together words that become beautiful.
But the problem is that any kind of meaningful reflection runs the risk of discomfort. Writing costs. It costs time and energy. It costs vulnerability. It costs pain sometimes. If the blank page is a repository for the deepest expressions of the heart, you’re bound to run into trouble somewhere.
But you can try as you might to keep it light and breezy, which is what I am doing right this very minute, moving words around the page in a way that would make my seventh grade English teacher proud…utterly avoiding meaningful reflection in any form.
It is Monday afternoon, after all.Eventually, though, I’ll have to write it all down.
I talked recently with a group of friends who agreed to hold me accountable for writing my story. The whole story. Write it down. Write it all down, every bit, they told me. And so, with a deadline looming and watch keepers who know all my lame excuses and won’t even consider letting me off the hook, I set to work today sketching out all the parts.
To be clear, I didn’t write all the parts…I just made an outline.
And I’m finding that even the outline feels just a little bit…too close for comfort. Painful. I don’t want to open those cans of worms, what turns out to be an entire shelf of canned worms. I don’t want to, I don’t want to, I don’t want to.
So, I’m just writing other things…things about how we can’t get the dead rat smell out of the foyer of the church no matter what deodorizing product we use and where the kids and I should go to dinner tonight.
Eventually I know I will have to write it all down. The process will involve opening memories long closed and stored away. It will involve remembering the moments that make a life. It will be funny and nostalgic, and it will hurt.
But while I am scared of all of these things, I confess I am more scared of my friends, whom I know will chase me down and make me write until I write it all down. All of the floating ideas in my head, some wistful memories, a bunch of dreams and hopes and regrets…every single word that needs to be written.
But now, oh, would you look at the time??! I have to go pick up the kids now….
But I know in the end I will have to, somehow, write it all down.