I’m not a writer. But, I do think a lot, mostly in whole sentences and in long winding paragraphs. All the events of my life, at some point or another, become the subject of intense interior monologues, mini research projects that have attributions, historical background even footnotes. I would have to say that both my inner and outer life are completely dominated by words. They are my compass, my altimeter, my inner guides. They ground me and keep me going. They give me structure, and help me make sense of past, present and future. Even my dreams have voice-over narrations. I suppose it could have been music or pictures, but it’s not. I guess I’m wired for words.
Not surprisingly I talk a lot too. For people like me, talking is foreplay, the way to intimacy and connection, transcendence too. It’s not always clear to me where it’s going when I talk, but talking is how I get there. I don’t know what I think, or even how I feel until I find the words. Like Ariadne’s thread they lead me deep into the labyrinth; and meeting the Minotaur helps me meet myself.
I think and I talk about what I think, but when it comes down to the business of writing I stop. Maybe I don’t like the finality of the words on the page. They seem tied down, like poor Gulliver’s Traveler, bound and unable to explore the strange land he’s found himself in. Maybe I like the elusiveness of thought or speech where you never have to touch ground, and can make minor adjustments at every moment and the topic morphs in multiple directions all along the path. There’s exhilaration in free thought that is missing when I write. Maybe I’m just scared that it will all be too humdrum once it reaches the page.
Maybe writing is the Minotaur.
For several hours today I’ve avoided writing. Despite the fact that I’m planning, of all things, a ‘writing’ workshop I keep turning away from writing. This morning I scoured the house for even more books to help me learn about writing. I already have a fairly large tower of tomes fully assembled, all dedicated to the same sort of topic - helping me understand more about writing and how it’s done - and I passed them by in pursuit of more pressing tasks, such as doing the laundry, playing Free Cell and reading my email (which included a library notice telling me that yet another book on how to write had arrived). I kept dodging the computer, feeling a little like Goldilocks – the computer chair was too uncomfortable, the living room was too dark, the sun on the deck was too hot. What is going on?
The only thing that let me finally sit down was the possibility of a topic sentence. A ghostly whispering thought floated past me while standing between the laundry room and a shelf full of books. Something comes and I can begin, spinning everything that is yet unknown from that whisper - the very one that started this page.
I’m not a writer, yet. And that’s a beginning.
To be continued…