Sometimes I want to write, and perhaps you do, too, but the words won’t come.
Sometimes I want to settle into the story, bask in the sunlight of another world, and witness as my characters walk across the page. But sometimes they don’t.
And sometimes, I want to write about myself, but all my words escape me.
It’s easy to wish away all these moments as mere moments of writer’s block (though “mere” is hardly apt, as writer’s block is the bane of many an artist), but sometimes I fear the wall digs deeper than the blank page would have us think. Sometimes it’s not the words that are lacking, but the feelings, the articulations thereof, and sometimes the feelings have been so successfully suppressed that the words can’t even reach them.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately, since my last relationship ended about two months ago, but it’s easy to be ignorant when the world gives you excuses Let me reread Book 1. Let me reread The Lord of the Rings. Let me write Book 2. Let me make new lessons and new tests, grade these tests, and then make more lessons. And let my dog go into heat at the same time, so I can figure that out, and then look, new Pokemon games! And new Smash Bros. games! And new games on sale that I should purchase just because I can!
I don’t generally see my love of books and writing and video games (collectively: stories) as escapist, but sometimes they are. This time, however, it’s not just the fallout of one relationship that’s lingering upon me; I’m not trying to escape that. It’s goes far deeper.
Until relatively recently, “free time” in my life was a fake concept. Sure, I took leisure time to read sporadically and to hang out with friends and to play video games, even to pick up new hobbies like swimming, fall out of habits (like swimming), and so on, but it’s been a rare moment when I’ve had the luxury of sitting back for deep reflection of the sort that makes life make sense and unfuddles all the things that befuddle us.
I can think back about four or five years when the over-commitment of my personal time took over: As a junior, I had a part-time job, a full-time schedule of classes, I helped lead two student organizations, plan a week-long service trip for spring break, and helped plan a national hunger and homelessness conference. I’m not bragging; such opportunities are easy to find in college, if you look for them (but less easy to manage).
As a senior I schooled myself on immigration and then began the process of bringing my then-fiance to the United States, I kept my part-time job, became a full-time grad student, began preparation to begin Teach for America, and completed my master’s thesis.
Then, at graduation, I injured my back moving off campus, my three-year relationship ended, and a week later I was flying to Houston to begin my tenure with Teach for America. And to begin another round of grad school. Teaching is demanding–physically and emotionally and mentally and spiritually–and adding atop that commitments for Teach for America (that often included professional development one weekend a month and sometimes weekly meetings as well), graduate classes to attend twice weekly, and homework assignments to complete, the last two years were nonstop. Thinking of it all now, it was a complete blur to me–I still sometimes wonder how I made it through.
Thankfully, however, all those obligations made one thing very easy: I didn’t need to process breaking up. Sure, I had rationalized it all and made peace with break up (possibly even before it happened, with how distant he’d become in the months leading up to its untimely end), but I never took time to actually think about it. Or maybe I did think about it–with my head–but I never took time to actually feel it, with my heart.
I’ve had two relationships since then. Both ended. Neither lasted longer than a few months, and while they ended reasonably amicably, the fact they ended has left me wondering why. And more so it’s left we wondering what I really want in a relationship.
The logical conclusion is that it all comes back to unfinished business surrounding my former engagement: this is the wall I need to breach. I know (in the absence of a trained therapist) writing is the best way through this wall, but all the words I need to dig deeper into myself are on the other side of it. It’s been so long since then that the feelings have cooled to embers and ash, and I don’t even know if I can read their portents even if I am able to look back as far as that to see things for what they were–or to look forward and see things as I want them to be. Sometimes it feels like the only clarity I find lies at the heart of my stories–Book II, after all, is still chugging along smoothly, even after NaNo.
Sometimes I’ve told myself I should just write. But the words feel ugly at my fingertips, poetry without melody, prose without body. The metaphors languish in their tears; similes mope around, kicking at the dirt like lost children. Meter and repetition, assonance and rhyme, each of these mock me every single time.
But sometimes, I suppose, life is ugly, so why shouldn’t our words be, too?