Kim at Go Fox Yourself recently shared what she would do for a career (or in general) if money and time was no issue.
I wrote a longish response*, where writing did not even cross my mind. In fact, when she described the rush she felt when she wrote – I knew immediately I was not in the same pool of writers as she, and all of the other commenters on her post.
“Writing is my jam. I tend to forget just how jacked I feel when I get some truly great creatively productive time into my day. Honestly, it’s the way I feel after an arduous hike, or an hour of skating around the park. My body feels great, my brain feels great and my soul is nourished”
I heart Kim, big time. But I am so jealous that this is what writing is for her! That this is what writing is for anybody!
Writing is not my jam. I don’t feel jacked after writing – I feel wrecked, like all my bones are loose and just jiggling around in my body, bouncing off of barely-there jelly-muscles.
Most times writing is accompanied by all the feels. I can’t separate it out, I can’t edit unless I’m still in the “feels high”. It’s like eating a whole pan of double fudge brownies in half an hour (which I’ve done, and no, I wasn’t actually high).
1.The sugar rush – it’s all energy and action and bits and pieces of words, (for example, on a recent trip I tried to write, but never got past the rush stage):
“I’ve been looking at the mountains my whole life, but this was the first time they made me feel small.
Where the edges look like a homemade cake, with the top layer of icing drooling down the sides
avalanche icing runs
playing Wheres Waldo but winter with elk
angry, intimidating blowing snofw out of the far depths of the range like a winter dragon flaring its nostrils, kicking up dust-nados with its claws
the arid land refusing even the slightest dew, freezing it into a thin layer, ice topped dust reflecting spottily in the sun.
steep sides layered like thin slices of meet
only hellish sulfur streams cut through the barrenness, unfrozen but draining, the hope of relief turned to salty gagging and chapped lips
the cattails leaning into each other, the wagging tongues of summertime gossips
counting nests like stars, brambly constellations hidden in criss-cross of bare branches
yet this is the most right things have ever been. being small is my place.
I fit alongside the world, one faceless throbbing mass of meat and water and bone and shit.
Where lakes look like wastelands”
I think there is some genius phrases in there, but I never got to stage 2 to actually make anything out of it.
2. The crash. This is where the feels turn a little sour, I feel a little nauseous most times, like I’m not quite sure if what I’m writing, or how I’m resorting the lines and inserting words is actually me or some other dissociative personality that only comes out for this…This is when I figure out what I’m actually writing about – in the previous case I never truly made it to this point. All I got was the “faceless throbbing mass of meat and water and bone and shit” – so I know it’s not about being lost, it’s actually about meaninglessness. I’m Ecclesiastes-ing it up, mostly.
3. The slow creeping in of normalcy, your life comes back to you, sort of. You don’t quite feel connected to it just yet. This is the shortest, but most important stage. This is when all the jumble comes into some lines that actually sort of flow. The empty space has meaning, not just for structure. The words sound not just nice, but real – they remind me of the first stage, and can almost throw me back into it. Unless I miss this stage, like I did with the above piece, that I didn’t look at until a week after the initial word vomit. Then I’m out of luck. I end up with snippets that I want to throw into a few haiku – there’s a niche for pretty sounding words that are mostly about nature, without having room (for me, at least, with the way I tend to write) for real description, engagement, meaning.
old cattails leaning
together, wagging tongues of
But when this stage actually happens, I’m surprised by the finished product. Except for when I feel guilty for not editing it before posting it. This leads to the destructive stage 4: fixing it.
Except I can’t fix it – at least not without eating another pan of emotional brownies, which really just reverts me to stage 3 again. And I add more text, instead of changing text. I may delete half of it, then try to write it again, where I get something like this:
Dear littlest one,
I drove out to visit you the other day,
before you arrived. before you got scary.
I’ve been looking at the mountains my whole life,
driving through them I find a silent space that’s just mine,
not work’s, or time’s, or his, or ours, just mine.
This time, I felt small.
Smaller than you, smaller than the time your sister died,
like the mountains could implode at will,
like it didn’t matter if I got lost out here,
without you, or her.
I’m driving and the snow is drooling down the sides of the mountains
in avalanche runs that I swear stop just at the passenger door.
And I’ve been cursing a lot,
playing where’s waldo with the road lines,
and I-spy with daylight.
It’s dragon-winter out here,
angry intimidating blowing snow out of the far depths of the range,
she flares her nostrils at the intrusion,
kicks up salt-dust tornados with the annoyed swish of her tail.
the hidden beasts breath turns the land arid,
lakes look like wastelands,
rolling fields into icy moguls,
all refusing the slightest dew,
dust topped ice, salt-dusted fields…
…I wrote meaning into it, based on circumstances that happened yesterday that are totally unrelated to the emotional cake I was eating when I actually wrote it. So then I stop, because I hate it. I know it’s false. Or that I’m writing truth into something that is supposed to be false. And so it’s dishonest, too honest, wishy-washy, BS that I feel like I need to finish and post because I remember what the cake tasted like. But I just can’t seem to get the recipe down quite right again to actually revisit it.
All this to say, I would not want writing to be my main job. I’d force myself into bipolar swings in order to access certain parts of my brain that make emotions into words that make sense. This is why I’m Definitely Not a Writer. And most times, Definitely Not A Poet.
I Definitely Don’t Edit. I Definitely Don’t Reread. I Definitely Don’t Breathe Words, Creativity.
Anyway, all I’ve figured out is that I Definitely Like Cake, and brownies, and not my process.
*My response in full:
“Ugg, I wouldn’t want to own a bookshop – but I’d love to merch/order for one! I just want someone to give me a budget and say “Play!”, but I wouldn’t have to worry about staffing/customers…unless they were awesome. then maybe I be more socially involved.
Otherwise, I’d own a fly-in fishing lodge and hire a guide who will teach me the in’s and out’s of that particular lake the lodge would of course be located on. And in the winter, skiing, snowshoeing…birdwatching sessions at peak migration times, wildlife guided tours (hunting-less preferably).
I’d actually love to set up a wild bird rescue centre in the Peeg. There are so many endangered birds, especially raptors, in this area that get hit by logging trucks and die on the side of the road ’cause there’s no close spot to take them – they usually never survive the trip into town, then the flight to an actual trained bird centre in a larger city. Those birds that can’t be released back into the wild will become celebrities for local bird enthusiasts, tour schools, host visiting days, teach people about conservation.”