gold in the bottom of the well

“Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”

~ Gene Fowler

When I was younger, I used to write every single day. Not just blogs, either, because all we had in the way of online communication back then was AIM and ICQ (aslp!). No. I wrote songs, screenplays, sonnets. Endless poems. I wrote a lot of letters, all by hand, mostly on loose leaf three-hole punch paper. I also used up journals like Kleenex; I can still remember how my hand would cramp up trying to keep up with the words pouring out of my head, thoughts I couldn’t say out loud, secrets and revelations. I would sometimes read through them and be amazed at the rhetoric, the unmistakable clarity of thought. My writing back then was like gold sitting at the bottom of a perfectly clear, perfectly still well. It sparkled.

Now, I try to summon the inspiration to write a 200-word blog entry and I can barely gather my thoughts long enough to be coherent for one paragraph. I’m not entirely sure I’m being coherent right now.

Today, I left my glasses at home and my hyperopic eyeballs have been punishing me since 9 a.m. Work was crazier than normal (which is saying A LOT). I had to teach as soon as I got home, which is always a joy, but it doesn’t leave a lot of time for recuperation, especially when my student has decided to trade her usual Barbara Streisand repertoire for an uncharacteristic Miley Cyrus tune. By the time I get to the computer, my head is swirling with hyperopic eyeball fatigue, work projects, clients and subcontractors, vocalization scales and Miley Cyrus. From all that, I’m trying to pull out an insightful blog entry, and I’m failing.

Go figure. Today has felt like an uphill climb from the minute I opened my eyes, and yet the hardest thing I’ve had to do is sit in front of a computer and be still enough to write from the heart. I got through my 8 hours of work and then some, farsightedness and all, systematic and efficient like a heat-seeking missile. And now I’m staring at the blinking cursor on my blog page, waiting for my own words to come out, words that have been sitting in my head all day, and I am struggling.

Everybody says that writing is a challenge, but now I’m not sure that writing is the hard part. Writing is easy when you know what you’re writing. I know this because I remember that 16-year-old version of myself, cramping to keep up with the words in her head, hunched over her weathered journal in the dim light of her room at midnight. I was that girl. I still am that girl. What’s difficult is getting through all the garbage that has gotten in between that girl and this girl, the one whose fingers now touch the keys. What’s difficult is letting go of the struggles of the day – the pressures, the obligations, the self-imposed expectations we feel we have to meet. To be still like a well, let the dirt settle, let the sun stream in, let the gold that lies underneath catch light: this is the challenge of writing. Actually, it’s bigger than that. This is the challenge of life. At least it is in my life.


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