Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wake up, Creativity.

“Come on, Creativity. Up and at ‘em.”
Nothing but a muffled reply reaches me. I pull the covers off to reveal my own little writing style: young, full of passion, and dead asleep.
“Come on Creativity. It’s almost 11 a.m. I let you sleep in, now let’s get going.”
She groans and throws the pillow over her head.
I sigh and leave the room. I get another cup of coffee, a glass of water and turn on the live stream of NPR. I open up my guide on how to write the best f*ing book proposal in the world (not its actual title, just my name for about four books on the subject I’ve been reading lately) and try to concentrate. I jot down notes that will probably be useless to me according to the next book’s bright ideas. I read a chapter and put the book down. I take a glance toward the room where Creativity is blissfully unaware of how much this sucks without her, and I open up the novel.
I scroll back up through the last chapter and read through it again. I check spelling (when she gets going, Creativity doesn’t even make sure to spell her own name correctly) and try to look at the prose from the eyes of an editor, a reader, anyone but the mother of this darling child who is my pride and joy and the bane of my existence all rolled into one.
It’s pretty damn good.
I decide to try to start the next chapter without her. I crack my knuckles, take a deep breath, and dive into the keyboard like it’s a pool of dreams and all I have to do is plunge in.
I hit concrete.
No problem, I think. I must have just tried to jump into the shallow end. I turn the keyboard sideways, so that the Q, A and Z keys are at the top. I think this is really clever and chuckle to myself. Sometimes it’s just about finding a different way of looking at it. I leap into the role of being a writer, something I have just recently claimed myself to be on my tax return.
“What are you DOING????”
I jump and nearly spill my coffee all over the keyboard. My head hits the concrete at the side of the pool and thumps like a melon.
“I was…you weren’t awake and I wanted to start. I was going to try it myself…”
Creativity gives me a look only possible in a teenager. It encompasses pity, loathing, and a little dash of self-satisfied smirk.
“You tried that before, remember? You know you’re no good at this all by yourself.”
I sigh. I want to yell at her but I know she’s right.
“Okay fine. You sit here and I’ll get you something to eat.”
Creativity sits at the table, her long legs curled awkwardly underneath her. They’re longer than she’s used to, and she hasn’t managed to make them very sturdy yet. She looks at me deliberately and turns the keyboard so that it’s facing the right direction. I turn away and begin to make her some eggs. I get caught up in what I’m doing and daydreaming about what it will be like when we get to show Creativity’s work to people. She’s not ready yet, of course, but it won’t be long now…
I turn to give her the plate of food I just made and she’s not there. I look around. The door is open and the sun is shining in through the doorway. I groan inwardly. Creativity loves the sunshine, but not for work. She wants to go play. She’s probably out planning elaborate gardens or making up stories in her head about meeting a tall dark and handsome man walking on the beach.
I sigh and sit down at the computer. I turn the keyboard sideways and take a bite of her eggs. Maybe she’ll be in the mood to help me tomorrow.

Love and adolescent kisses

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The First Day of My Writing Life

I was recently offered a job as a caretaker for an island property in Panama. It was an unpaid position, mind you, but it would have been a place to live in Panama for free in exchange for showing guests around the island and a nearby town.
This may seem like an easy equation for people who have full-time jobs: no pay+work as caretaker+no vacation time=no. And they would be right. The fact that it’s unpaid is only one of many reasons it’s not a good idea. However, I labored long and hard over whether or not I should go. I thought about it for most of the day, then emailed the property owner and told him I wouldn’t be able to make it down there for three weeks. I am a writer, taking time off from “the real world” as some people call it, and it doesn’t really matter where I am when I write. Or that’s what I told myself. I told myself that it was just my kind of opportunity; it wasn’t the first time I would have worked for next to nothing (or nothing) to go abroad.
The more I thought about it, the more I decided it was almost inevitable, and the more and more depressed I got. I felt like it was the straight path I had been following for years: work, hate it, quit, go abroad, spend all your money, come back, get a job, hate it…
And out of nowhere, as I went through the day-to-day activities of my meager but pleasurable existence, I realized that I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to start my cycle again. I enjoyed getting up and knowing that I could do whatever it was I wanted to, and all I wanted to do was write. If I moved to Panama, it would be admitting that my path would never go anywhere but in a circle. I would inevitably not make it where I wanted to go, because being abroad would take precedence over my writing. I didn’t want that spiral into madness. I wanted to write.
It really shouldn’t have been that big of a decision. I should have perhaps been able to come to the conclusion sooner, or earlier in my life. However, when it did come to me it was like a thunderclap. I want to write. I knew it, I told people about it, I worked at it, but until I decided not to go to Panama, I didn’t realize how much I had grown to love my writing. Not as a person in love with themselves and their own prose, but as someone who has given birth to a child and cared for her by necessity for so long that they don’t realize how beautiful she is until one day she comes into the room in a prom dress and spins around.
My writing isn’t very mature yet. She is not grown up, ready to drive or move out or go to college. She doesn’t quite fit into that prom dress yet. In fact, my writing is prone to tantrums and illogical conclusions and PMS and adolescent hormone imbalances. She has pimples and braces. But somehow under the awkwardness I see something to love, someone to lavish with praise and patiently wait for her to stop wobbling and begin to walk with confidence and grace. She may be a late bloomer, but I want to be there to watch her bloom. So I’m going to stay here and let her grow, where I know it’s safe and stable and where we’re happy. There will always be time for Panama when she grows up.

Love and pubescent writing kisses