Saturday, December 22, 2012

On writing avoidance - part 2

Well, hello again! I seem to have turned up after all.

The thing about writing avoidance, which I started discussing in yesterday's post is that it is SO much easier than, well, actually writing. There is always something to be done. Today, for instance, I have started some laundry, cleaned the litter box, made tea and consumed it with some homemade poundcake, dropped my girls off at a train station so they can visit their aunt, run several errands, one of which involved Barnes & Noble, which has books, so, like, obviously I've done all the book/writing-related things I need to today, right?

To say nothing of the other possible distractions all resident on this here laptop I'm typing on. Spider Solitaire. Facebook. Email, and the requisite re-checking to find out that, nope, nobody has sent me an email. Can that be right? Check again. Still nothing. (What - you don't do that too?) Or the ones in my house - so many things could be cooked or cleaned or mended or put away, so many crafts could be started and/or finished. I'm pretty sure you all know this drill.

The point is, there is ALWAYS something else I could be doing. And that something is almost always easier than sitting down, quieting my mind a bit, and either starting something new or finding my way back into something already in progress. And even if those other things aren't easier, there are pretty much always other things that seem more necessary in the grand scheme of things. Grocery shopping, say. Or balancing my checkbook. Or cleaning the toilets.

And there is always something going on in the world that feels bigger and more important, too. Elections, say, or massive superstorms, or tragic events like the mass killing of innocent children and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut. Birthdays and weddings and funerals and holidays, too. Things that need to be marked or observed or participated in.

With all those distractions, it can be hard to convince myself that there is value in taking time to write. Especially when one is hoping for publication, and it can be so damned hard to sell things one has written. (Anybody want a piratical counting book in rhyme? A picture book about the mating dance of albatrosses? 'Cause I've got 'em right here, ready to go, and they're pretty darned good.) Or if one is wondering if anyone is actually out there, reading that blog post one worked so hard on. (Stat counters are great at letting you know that someone's reading something, but we all know that comments are love, yes?)

The thing is, I've finally figured out that all writing is communication. It's part of a dialogue with someone, even if that someone doesn't yet know they're going to be part of the program. It's a way of reaching out into the void and connecting with another person, even though at the moment it's being written, the author may not know that other person. Blogs are a bit more immediate than, say, novels or picture books. Facebook is faster than a blog. Twitter can be faster still, but only if the right person or people is online when you post. (Who goes back and reads hours' or days' worth of Twitter feeds? Not I, and we've already established that I can find LOTS of reasons not to write, but that isn't one of them.)

Or maybe Stephen King is right. Here's what he said in his marvelous On Writing:

What Writing Is

Telepathy, of course. It's amusing when you stop to think about it--for years people have argued about whether or not such a thing exists, folks like J. B. Rhine have busted their brains trying to create a valid testing process to isolate it, and all the time it's been right there, lying out in the open like Mr. Poe's Purloined Letter. All the arts depend upon telepathy to some degree, but I believe that writing offers the purest distillation. Perhaps I'm prejudiced, but even if I am we may as well stick with writing, since it's what we came here to think and talk about.

* * *

Look--here's a table covered with a red cloth. On it is a cage the size of a small fish aquarium. In the cage is a white rabbit with a pink nose and pink-rimmed eyes. In its front paws is a carrot-stub upon which it is contentedly munching. On its back, clearly marked in blue ink, is the numeral 8.

Do we see the same thing? We'd have to get together and compare notes to make absolutely sure, but I think we do.

Isn't it worth it, at the end of the day, to have forged that connection with someone, even if they are an unknown somewhere out there in the great world beyond? I think it might be. Which brings me to part 3 of this string of posts about writing avoidance - the worry that what you have to say isn't worth saying/reading. But I'm leaving that for tomorrow.

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