I have several friends who are writers and share their fervor and thoughts about this craft with me. While out in Los Angeles, one friend asked, “How intense is your passion for writing?” I remained fairly non-committal. In a subsequent e-mail he wrote of another activity he spent time on and said, “[doing X] …make[s] me feel that I am wasting my time--there's some work of literature that I should be forging with all the fire of my passion and sculpt with all the literary talent I possess …”.
I read those words and felt bereft. I was doing little to carve time out of my life for writing. I mean, I was writing in my journal/blog several times a week and half-heartedly working on a story about a man and woman struggling toward a relationship, but my 49’er, Josiah, languished from inattention. I made excuses right and left for not writing. Or not writing on that project. To myself I thought, “maybe I’m not “really” a writer”. I worried I didn’t have the fire in my belly – to pursue this interest and become a crafter of stories. I have since had an epiphany.
When life was so tumultuous last week – when I was trying so hard to hang on, what did I want to turn to most? (Shockingly enough, NO, the answer isn’t SCOTCH!) It was my writing. Friday, after the funeral my thoughts and emotions were like a river at flood stage. I longed to get home and put words to paper, to sort out what I was thinking and feeling. Instead, I returned to work in a state of mental chaos. Thoughts – tumbled and spun in the current – but I couldn’t gain clarity or perspective. The sediment of small irritations, that I normally can keep in context, were advancing with the same destructive force as a whole walnut tree floating downstream.
The chaos was so great, I left work early. Immediately, upon arriving home I began to write. When I was done I was calmer – and headed off to bed. Saturday morning I awoke, and my “mental health” number was slightly restored. In writing to another friend I talked about how I wanted to spend time with Josiah (my character) – and get him out to the ocean. I did spend time writing, but it was all refining of previous work. Still I longed to have Josiah encounter fog, waves crashing on rocks, and the quite of a redwood grove. These images have stayed with me … and have not left my mind. In reviewing (and trying to slash and burn my way through) my words I’ve decided Josiah handles my mental distress for me. When I cannot jump in my car and escape – he can. He can go to those places that bring me solace – seek them out. Revel in their sanctuary – and bring order and calm to his world, and thereby my own.