It’s 4:41 in the morning and I can’t sleep. I’ve been tossing and turning for about two hours so I finally got up and got the computer and some peanut butter cups and I’m sitting in bed hoping to get some of these thoughts whirling in my head down on paper. Or rather, computer screen. Whatever. I can’t ever remember having done this before since I’m an easy sleeper and rarely have insomnia. I guess this is what this is: insomnia. She’s a companion I’m not familiar with except at times of extreme excitement or anxiety over an event coming up the next day and it’s been a long time since I’ve had such an event in my predictable life.
I was thinking, as I lay here, that once again I didn’t finish a project I began – didn’t reach a set goal (as far as the goals I set go, which are never far). I signed up for NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) on April 1 but only made it through April 14. I’m not really disappointed with myself – I know myself and I knew going in it was unlikely I’d make it to April 30. I don’t beat myself up over my lack of persistence – life is too short for that. (I suppose some would say I take the easy way out.) This whole “writing” thing has me confused anyway. All my life my impetus for writing has been one of three things: inspiration, obsession or sorrow. Let me explain. By inspiration I mean something or someone or an event has to inspire me to write about it. It has to grab my attention, make me feel vibrantly. By obsession I mean something or someone has to invade every pore in my body, transfix every thought in my mind, inhabit my every dream at night. By sorrow I mean sadness and loneliness so dark it has one rolling in the deep (as the song says). I try to stay away from regret though – it’s a soul-killer.
Much of the advice I’ve read from other writers says it’s important to practice the craft of writing every day. One friend of mine said after reading The Artist’s Way she began a ritual of writing every morning. I thought that sounded like something I should try so I started a daily journal. At first it went well but, like most of my “projects”, I slowly began missing days until I was only writing maybe once a week. I simply didn’t have anything I felt worth writing down every single day. I recently read an essay by a writer who talked about how obsessed she was with writing, how it consumed her and every minute of her life. She described being in such a frenzy of writing that she peed in jars rather than stop to go to the bathroom, she lost jobs for her distraction, she wrote on anything and everything she could get her hands on. I guess she had a lot to say. That is just foreign to me, that need to talk and/or write so compulsively. I especially feel that with poetry which is my main form of writing. I just cannot write a poem every day. Some people can – it’s like they have sunny days every day of their lives and poems just pop out like flowers in June. I, on the other hand, have thunderstorms from time to time and that’s when I’m able to write. I don’t think sunny days are necessarily better than thunder storms nor that thunder storms produce better writing than sunny days. It’s just the way it is with me. So I’ve decided I’m not going to try to force my rain to be sunshine anymore. I’m just going to write when and if the words are there. Like at 4:41 on a Saturday morning.
(Originally posted on NOLAFemmes.)