Write Something

It doesn't matter what. Just write something

Writing circle prompt: “He is too shy to open his mouth.”

Visualize it, the doctor said. See yourself picking up the phone. See yourself dialing.

When he closes his eyes he sees it not in color, not in flesh, but in woodcuts. Like in his grandmother’s book of fairy tales—the massive one, that needed an adult’s lap to support. The faces scraped too heavily from the grain of the block, the limbs always a bit too long.

You’re saying hello. You’re asking if you can speak to her.

There was a picture in the middle of the book that the pages always fell to when he pulled it off the table, too small and too cowed by grandmother’s parlor to hold on to it properly.  A well, a woman. A girl mouthing moans as a horrid, squat creature tumbled from her lips. Another following.

She’s coming to the phone. You are calm. You are deciding what to say.

There were two girls went to the well to draw water. The first was a poor starveling, relict of a sweet consumptive mother too fondly remembered for the new wife’s taste. Her stepmother used her cruelly, yet she spoke only kind words to the beggar-woman who asked her to draw just one cup more.  The woman kissed her cheek and each word was a pearl, a rose-petal, a diamond drop.

She’s saying hello. You are calm. You are calm.

The stepmother sent her own daughter next, to earn her mouthful of riches.  This daughter was a pampered priss, far too proud of her own reflection on the surface of the well to speak prettily to the woman who waited there.  Not a beggar, this time—a lady of furs and finery, surely with servants enough to draw her water and even to bring the cup to her lips. So the second girl said, with a toss of her head and a giggle. The lady kissed her other cheek and the next laugh brought forth a swarm of flies.

Visualize speaking. But even in his mind, he is too shy to open his mouth.  He doesn’t want to know what’s kissed him. 

Yes. You saw it coming. I saw it coming. And yet, it still happened. The number of things I have written? None. None things.*

*Well, this isn’t strictly true. I think I wrote three or four sentences on a series of fanfic prose-poems inspired by the Sherlock Holmes canon set in a mythical universe in which fauns are real and… you know what, forget it. I didn’t write anything. Not anything at all. 

Why is that? I like writing. I love writing. I also secretly believe I’m very good at it. (Not so secretly, now, I suppose.)  Why, then, does it hurt to do?

Some of it, yeah, is being busy. Some of it, sure, is standard procrastination. Some of it, fine, is my occasionally crippling internet addiction. And a large chunk, loath as I am to admit it, is likely the influence of anxiety and depression, my mind’s asshole roommates. Yeah, they steal shit from my fridge, they talk down to me, they leave their crap everywhere, and I should have evicted them long ago, but dammit, they pay rent on time.

If they’re going to hang around, I may as well make them earn their keep, so the next few times, I’ll be writing about the things that bother me, in a step to hopefully putting them to rest. 

Not Exactly What I Intended To Write

Today, I Wrote A Thing! I did! And then my browser immediately ate it.

*headdesk*

The thing was about beginnings, and farfetched ideas, and about leaping off of precipices both figurative and… yeah, mostly just figurative. And about FILDI– a creature and a term coined by Ze Frank, standing for “fuck it, let’s do it.”

How strong is your FILDI? Do you step to the edge of the precipice, or do you swan dive over it? Or do you tie your ankle to the guardrail, just to be doubly safe? When I was a college freshman I was pretty sure that FILDI was the engine of real adulthood. I was going to say “fuck it” and do all kinds of typically college-freshman things: move to San Francisco, move to Paris, move to London, sell my possessions and buy a van to go west like Horace Greeley, dedicate my life to music, dedicate my life to writing, submit stories to publishers, build a life around creativity and art, go home with a devastatingly handsome Italian man I met on the streets of Rome (our only mutual vocabulary was “hello” and “kiss me,” which would get anybody into trouble.) I waxed Bohemian and insufferable about all of these– and then instead I went home and paid my student loans and got to bed at a semi-reasonable hour. My FILDI mostly stays in the top of my closet, at the back, behind the summer clothes and the cleaning supplies.

My husband recently saw an opening for the apprenticeship of a lifetime. It would be fascinating, it would be difficult, it would be unpaid, and it would require relocating overseas for several years. He asked, only a quarter seriously, about sending in a letter of inquiry, and I said “Fuck it, let’s do it.” The invitation to apply which followed his inquiry, although it was very general and he was one of over 1100 applicants, was a surprise and a challenge, at least to me. There are a million, billion reasons why this wouldn’t work, some of them cowardly and some very practical and concerning. And yet, my FILDI whispers from its box in the closet– you have to chase something huge. At least once in your life. At least to see how far you get. If we can make it work– which remains to be seen– then why not?

It’s still the longest of long shots, but it does feel exhilarating to let FILDI stretch his legs again. Tempered, of course, by his adult brother, ALAWCSEWDI– “…as long as we can still eat while doing it.” If we do not wind up chasing this apprenticeship, then maybe I’ll take a look at some of those other college freshman goals and see what I can do to bring them into actual adulthood. (Except the Italian guy. Sorry, Bartolomeo– it was never meant to be.)

Any thing? Yes, ANY thing.

For most of my life I have written prolifically. Journals, short stories, long stories, fanfiction, poetry, humorous asides, catalogs of tangentially related ideas or objects, chunks of dialogue between real or imaginary people, my own name or the alphabet over and over.

Sometime last year, I stopped.

For the past ten months, I haven’t written much beyond grocery lists. I have also been increasingly bored and panicked about the future. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that these things were, oh, probably related– and then I thought “Well, uh… just… WRITE A THING.”

Like putting weight on a long-immobilized limb, I feel uncoordinated and self-conscious. I don’t really remember how all of these muscles move together, how to keep them straight, how to judge the distance to where I want to be and, by my own locomotion, arrive there. This is my blog for working through the pins and needles.

 

These things usually have rules, and here are mine:

1) Write a thing.

2) … that’s it.

 

This thing could be from a writing prompt, or it could be a chunk of a longer work, or a reboot of something I started and abandoned. It could be doggerel, or snide haiku, or lists of things, or hell, the word “stapler” over and over and over. Just as long as it is A Thing, and I have Written It.

I would try for daily, but I’ve made that promise before in various endeavors and I know how it goes. Anything– no matter how enjoyable– that I have to do every damn day eventually falls by the wayside. Usually I’ll miss a day, and then WELP I GUESS THE PLANE HAS CRASHED INTO THE MOUNTAIN NOW. And then I stop. So my official goal is “often.”

Or, you know, at least once. Even if I only write one thing, that’s one thing more than I’ve written this year. And hey, I guess this blog post counts! I have, in fact, Written A Thing.

 

Next stop: TWO things.

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