I haven’t written a proper blog in a while. I don’t know why. Most of the time I just want to write a poem, or work on a series, or edit my manuscript. But something odd has happened. I don’t like the manuscript anymore. My series’ are running dry, for now, and I feel lost. Again, something miraculous keeps happening, though–poems I never dreamed of writing appear to me in a hurried hustle of feet. Like last week, walking through Grand Central, a felt a first line come down and tap me on the shoulder. Interesting, I thought. And, I wonder where that leads to? So I got on the train and a drunk man started screaming. Interesting, I thought, Where does that lead to? And so I kept writing, and the poem appeared. I didn’t plan for it. I didn’t ask, Hey, Shannon, why don’t we write a poem? It just came to me. And I felt warm. The series’ happen this way, too, but when they don’t come, there’s no use to force it. It’s like trying to write without a pen. It’s sloppy, wrong, sounds off.
So, I am left with these strange poems. Random. Gifted. But something is missing, something else.
I used to write in a blog every day, back in Texas. I used to just write and not think. I’d talk to someone through the words, and I’d feel happy.
I forgot about her.
And now, for whatever reason, life seems to be collaborating in a scheme to get me back to THIS. Just writing. Not trying. And not poetry. Just writing.
Collaborating how? Well, let’s see.
I don’t have a proper job. I temp. So that means I have a lot of time on my hands. My friendships have shifted, some have moved away and others have just, well, shifted. I’m beginning to miss home. I’m feeling aimless. I no longer have classes or a full time job to occupy me. Sometimes I get anxious. Count my steps. Try to read book after book to keep my mind busy, and of course work on my “work” my “writing.” But something gets abandoned along the way.
Now, aimlessness and uncertainty can seem to be obstacles. They can weigh you down. Make you depressed. The temptation to just move for the sake of moving comes to mind. “Let’s get outta here” mentality. Don’t think I haven’t thought about it. And maybe I will. Soon. Or maybe not. If you don’t know where you’re going, best to stay where you are. That sorta thing. But I believe in direction, and a path, and signs. Even when I no longer know what they are, or what it is. Or where I’m going. Or who I am.
The sense of aimlessness, homesickness, uncertainty? I choose to take the positive side of this season in my life. What can I gain from this?
I was driving today and the intense feeling of change came over me. It’s the weather. It’s the fall approaching. What have you. But what I felt was a change in me. A sort of coming back.
Like I said, I haven’t written a proper blog in ages. Why? I used to write for pleasure. I used to just write.
Sense of change.
For the past two years, I’ve worked hard. I’ve tried to make a way for myself as a writer. I’ve taken what I love and worked it into a craft. An art. Not that I didn’t try to do that before, but it became “official” as I entered a MFA program. People began talking about who they met, how much they’ve published, what literary and publishing jobs they were aiming for.
I began seeing myself as a “real writer” in the community. Real Writer. As though I was merely playing at it before.
And, yes, I grew. I became an “adult writer” I guess you’d say. Or have I?
The problem, I think, was this facade I built around myself. The Identity of the Writer. And working under these notions had its advantages. Wasn’t I always a writer? I was fulfilling my dream! It felt good.
But I got lost, I think, somewhere in the creation of that persona.
Today, driving, I felt a change happening. My friendships are changing, things are moving in, moving out. I’m still here. I’m still in this place. But I don’t feel directed. Guided. I don’t know what’s going to happen. This is scary. But, I will choose the positive in this situation.
I believe in direction, in a plan. Not one that I map out for myself–though goals are good– those usually fail or change. But one that’s natural. Like the seasons. And signs. But what about when things seem to go silent? And there are no signs. And it feels like the plan has forgotten where it last left you?
The positive: A pulling back to the self. When there’s nothing “happening” and it seems there’s nowhere to go, I think it’s a way to turn in. Take a breather. Build something, discover something new. And that something new may be a part of the self you’ve left in the back of your mind.
For me, that self is the one who writes for the joy of it. Who doesn’t stress about notoriety or publication, but just wants to communicate. Wants to reach people. Wants to celebrate. Or play. Or cry.
I miss her.
There is nothing here for me. I don’t know where I’m going. Life seems to have dropped me from its flight pattern and left me in a strange wood with no map.
I went on a vision quest, once. And lately, that experience keeps playing itself over and over again in my mind. Maybe something’s trying to tell me something. To help me understand why I’m going through what I’m going through.
On the vision quest, all I had was a compass. I was supposed to make a camp site in two days, matching the compass to the camp site’s coordinance. Alone, I walked in the wilderness. Completely alone. No cell phone, nothing. I wrote a lot. But eventually, I ran out of things to write. It rained. I cried at first. Then built an A-frame tent. I sat there. I was bored.
The second day of walking, I thought, this is weird. Just to walk and not know where you’re going. But then I started to look around. And take things in. What else was there to do? I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t even have an agenda, except to walk.
I stopped at a big tree on the side of the road. Mountains in the distance. I mixed honey with my raw oats and sat there, licking out of the plastic bag like an old bear. This feels good, I thought. And this tree is beautiful. I have no purpose but to live.
That’s kind of how I feel right now. I’m just living. Just walking even though I don’t know where I’m going. It rains, sometimes. I cry. I question. I doubt. But I keep going.
Am I a writer? Or am I just a person, living one day at a time? Where has the Me gone? She’s still here. Slowly, I think I’m breaking down the facade, the persona of the Real Writer and getting back to the girl who just lives, and writes through that living.
When I was a kid, I used to write to God. I remember distinct times. But for some reason one memory stands out the most lately– during a school field trip on a bus, I wrote to God, like I usually did, in my journal, but something had changed. I wrote:
God. It’s a good day. I mean, I’m lonely and feel weird. But I think we are closer than we have been. I think I’m beginning to believe you’re HERE. In the seat beside me. And I’m writing because it feels good. And no matter what, I’ll keep writing to you, God. I know you can’t write back. Not really. But I think I understand that, even when you FEEL unreal, you’re not. And I am writing because, for some reason, it feels good. And I don’t know what else to do when I feel sad, or angry, or even happy. I feel close to you. I’m happy I have this, God. Thank you.
And I don’t know why that memory stands out the most. I was in fourth grade. And that feeling of isolation and loneliness I had then–I can recall it like it was yesterday. And, to be honest, I still feel it. But the feeling of closeness I described? Well, I think what I was really trying to say was that, through writing, I felt closest to the self. My true self. The self that isn’t even a self, but stripped of all the personae I put on and change and construct.
Today, I was talking to a friend of mine about how much it hurts when someone takes something you’re working on and suggests it’s not “good” or “real writing.” He said, Shannon, don’t take it too seriously. I thought, yes, because the wounded will end up being the girl, who just writes. Who just lives. And celebrates.
And I think that’s been missing. And I think that’s why I haven’t written a proper blog in a while. And I think, in working on my “work” to become a Real Writer, I’ve forgotten the importance of just writing.
The gift? The positive side of this feeling of aimlessness? I think it’s this realization. Everything is still. Nothing is happening in my life, or that’s how it seems. I’m just walking. I don’t know the destination. But it’s because of this, because of this “season” that I’m able to stop. Rest by a tree on the side of the road. Enjoy the honey and say, Hello. I’ve missed you.