Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dial Tone

I can write when I’m feeling really bad and I can write when I’m feeling good. But I can’t seem to write from this place that is a straight and static line just above the feeling really bad place, which is where I’ve been in for the past couple of weeks. A dial tone, as Hank Moody, himself a blocked writer, and one of the best television characters to come along in years, calls it. Though he’s usually talking about his ex-girlfriend’s new husband, it describes this place I find myself in perfectly.

My oldest daughter, who is a serious fiction writer, tells me that writing is the hardest thing she ever attempts to do. That she hates it at the same time that she loves it. That oftentimes it is the last thing she wants to do and yet she can’t not do it. She is compelled and propelled and driven, and knows that it is what she’s been put here to do. Day in and day out, through thick and through thin, through good moods and bad, inspired or uninspired, she writes. And she has little patience when I whine about writing being hard. It is hard, she tells me. It is hard. And don’t disrespect it by thinking that it is easy… appreciate the times where it seems effortless, those brief windows when it flows freely as if from some creative spring, but don’t confuse those times with the reality of it. A writer doesn’t bitch about it being hard. A writer writes…

So, here I am writing about not being able to write. Or, maybe what I’m really writing about is the dial tone, and how hard it is to live in this flat place, where little moves me, where inspiration is nonexistent, where I can see, as I have over the past couple of days, some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in nature, and it registers in my head, but otherwise does not enter me, faze me, affect me.

And yet.

There’s something here, floating around just outside my immediate awareness, that I’m glimpsing but not quite grasping. Something to do with the connection between writing and life. About it being hard and doing it anyway. About the assumption that it should be easy. About resistance and preferences. And something I’ve heard my teacher say many times that his teacher used to say: When you’re in the ocean, the moment there is a preference for calm seas over stormy, you are already on the shore.

I’m out of time. But there’s a thread here, to be with, maybe to pick up in tomorrow morning's writing.

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