John Lennon wrote that “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” What happens when life gets in the way of writing?
Most writers I know don’t have the luxury of lolling about, sitting in their quiet private room, or like JD Salinger, hiding away in a secluded bungalow, writing for days without disturbances. Many of us have children to raise, other jobs to commute to, groceries to buy, errands to run, and interruptions to contend with. We struggle to find time to sit down and put pen to paper or pound out prose on the computer.
So, here I am, at 3:15 a.m., at the computer, sorting out my thoughts. I tell myself, “You can’t do this. You have things that need to be done later. You will be tired. Go back to bed.” But my brain won’t allow it. I must write and get it out of my system.
Writing has a way of coming out whether I want it to or not. It always wins. If I try to suppress it or put it off, it festers and nags at me until I finally let it happen. No matter if I spend the day dealing with a repairman or if I work a 12-hour shift at the hospital, the Muse must be reckoned with. If not, I am miserable and discontented. Like symptoms in an illness, the words must be expelled. The gut must be quieted. The fever must be cooled. The headache must be massaged. The thoughts must be regurgitated onto paper, no matter how poorly written or rough. Once out, I can move on and take care of worldly matters.
It is hard to relent to the power of the Muse. I struggle to break free from my thoughts, but until they are put into words, I cannot rest. Sleepless, I write, not knowing if any gems will pour out from my brain, if I will hit the mother lode or if this is just another batch of fools’ gold. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is the act of writing it down, getting it out.
Writing is organic to me. Since childhood, I have feasted on all that life has to offer. I create characters based on my past relationships and encounters. I imagine scenes and “what ifs” to create the background and stories. I remember distinct voices from the past that lend dialogue to my characters, I exaggerate characteristics I have seen, adding quirks and flaws in my heroes and heroines. This magnificent feast of which I have been privileged to partake must be digested and used. Energy must be released. If not, my brain becomes too full. So, I sit here now, clicking away at the keyboard, writing down my feelings and thoughts, trying to make sense of them. If others share in the experience, so be it. I am willing to share in my feast of thoughts. But like going to a new restaurant, we never know for sure how the meal will turn out until we dig in.