As I tell my students every term: for some of us writing is a labor of love, and for others dreaded labor. What I neglect to tell them is that for many of us, it is both. Since I was a kid, writing has been a constant in my life. It has been an outlet, at various moments, for my childhood imagination, my adolescent angst, my collegiate sexual drama, and my second adolescent angst (also known as my twenties). It has been a craft, a distraction, a tool for self-exploration, and a quicksand of self-indulgence.
Writing is where I have gone to make sense of that which does not make sense. Somehow, once written, there’s a way that the inexplicable and the incomprehensible become objects we can hold. They may still devastate and infuriate us, but we can own them, name them, describe their shape and sound. Once you’ve written about it, pain begins to serve another purpose: art (or your sorry attempt at it, anyway).
Still, while writing itself may feel natural and fluid at times, the practice of writing has never come easily to me. Like so many other jaded-20-something-self-proclaimed-writers I know, I struggle with making writing a regular practice in my life. Instead, I find myself caught in the cycle of complaining: complaining about missing the structure that a workshop once provided; complaining about the struggle to find energy in the wake of my full-time job; complaining about the futility of trying to write something new when you live in Brooklyn and even the jokes about Brooklyn clichés have long since become clichés.
Finding that elusive moment when inspiration, energy and time converge is difficult. But it has become too easy, I think, for me to dismiss that moment as impossible, and therefore not worth pursuing. A writer who has been somewhat of a mentor to me, Naomi Rand, wrote this in an email to me, about the time when she first dedicated herself to her writing:
The one thing I did was force myself to work. I didn’t expect to write a lot, just something every day. Not hours. An hour would suffice. Even a half hour. Just something really. By the end of a year I think my brain must have rewired.
I have attempted to kick-start this blog twice so far, both times with the intention of writing regularly, and both times abandoning it. This is my third try, and I hope it sticks.
On a related note, I’ve just heard from the editors of Pisgah Review that they did indeed publish my essay, “My Midwestern Love Affair,” in their most recent issue. I wrote it three years ago, and it’s almost embarrassingly irrelevant to my life now. But it’s an honor to be published, and exciting to have my work out in the ether, even if no one reads it. Here’s to the next one.