According to one story the French poet Saint-Pol-Roux used to hang a sign outside his door while he retired for the night. “The poet is working.”
Lately what I do on most days is procrastinate then read and then cry some and laugh. I tend to daydream and meditate a lot. Whatever I am experiencing at the moment never seems real enough until I evoke it again. It’s as if I’m not there. Then I remember everything. I can go right back to any moment in my life, even the earlier stages and remember myself going from one phase to another. But isn’t this what most writers do?
“I never quite know when I’m not writing.” James Thurber wrote. “Sometimes my wife comes up to me at a dinner party and says, ‘Dammit, Thurber, stop writing.’ She usually catches me in the middle of a paragraph. Or my daughter will look up from the dinner table and ask, ‘Is he sick?’ ‘No,’ my wife says, ‘he’s writing.’”
For the past few months I am sorry to say that I haven’t done any real writing. When I say real I mean sitting at my desk and pounding away at the keys of my keyboard. I want to believe it’s not writer’s block that I am suffering from. I think that since I like to write about my emotions and experiences with fearless sincerity and an open honesty and because there is a huge gap between my recent past and the present moment I am unable to translate my emotions into words. It’s because of the so many ups and downs that I have in a single day. My emotions fluctuate and my mood changes so frequently and unexpectedly. Sometimes I feel okay with whatever happened to me, to us. But at other times I dread the life that I have to live without him. Hence it’s easier to bury myself in a book than sit at my desk and try give away my feelings.
“But the author,” writes Somerset Maugham, “does not only write when he is at his desk; he writes all day long, when he is thinking, when he is reading, when he is experiencing; everything he sees and feels is significant to his purpose and consciously or unconsciously, he is forever storing and making over his impressions. He cannot give an undivided attention to any other calling.”
Why then do I feel guilty for not writing? Why do I go to bed thinking I have let another day go waste. Is it because deep in my heart of hearts I know that a book doesn’t write itself? That I have at some point to actually sit at my desk, and scribble, write, and write.
I go to bed at night with tears in my eyes promising myself that tomorrow will be a different day for me. That tomorrow I will take control of my life and continue to live. That tomorrow I must write. It’s part of my reason for writing really, to capture something- from the past and the present, and hold on to it, to sort of mingle real life with the life of dreams. Because writing is living. In the words of E.L. Doctorow:
“Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.”