When I lose touch with my writing, I know something is seriously wrong. It’s not about not being able to colour blank paper with a peppering of words. No. It’s not about telling stories or entertaining a mass audience through quirks and twists of language. No.
It’s about my heart. It’s about being out of touch with my heart, my deepest, innermost emotions and feelings and thoughts and cares. Because that is where my writing flows from. It flows from my sense of the world around me. My wonder at everyday miracles, tiny thoughts and interactions and reflections from casual exchanges that bloom into massive, huge, wondrous gardens which I can’t help but try and draw on paper.
When I can’t write, it’s like a dam has been closed off and my arteries have been blocked. The windows have been stuffed shut. There is no light and there is no wonder. There are no swirling galaxies in the dust motes on warm afternoons. There are no stories. I’m shut out and shunned away from my own rivers and lakes and oceans. From my own source of sustenance.
At first, it feels like a blocked throat. Like part of my ability to speak has been closed off. I hardly notice it- grateful for a calm life, grateful for some respite. If that shutters my voice and makes it hard to swallow, if it impedes the very blood in my veins, so be it. At least I can breathe, and sleep, and wake up gently. At least I can walk without a limp in my gait. I can think mundane thoughts and live one moment after the other as if in a daze, but I’m moving still. At first I’m grateful for the boat to have reached still waters.
Slowly, I realise how the waves aren’t carrying me anywhere. I sit, and I sit, and I sit. I cannot see beyond the thin layer of foam on the ocean top. The perpetually mild weather begins to get tedious. And I can’t speak. My voice is gone. The water is just that- water. The air is just air and the sky is just sky. I can’t speak and my eyes hurt and my throat hurts and I can’t say a single word. My heart is like a beating stone, doing its job and nothing more. And I can stare at blank paper for hours and not a single word would there appear on that fine sheet. Who ever thought pen and paper could be instruments of torture? But they are. They truly are. There I am, a warrior decked out in all her glory, standing tall in the midst of the battlefield, completey paralysed. My sword is rusted into its sheath and won’t unstick, and my shield? I’ve forgotten how to use it.
How I panic then. Eyes wild, breath hitching, the battlefield a shifting scene around me. Don’t get me wrong- I don’t care to defend myself from imminent attack. No. I simply want the freedom of swinging my weapon, hearing it slash through the air, poising myself to know that my limbs are my own. My skills are my own. I am an instrument of death and an instrument of life. And I am ready.
How I panic. There is a very deep hurt that comes from being blocked off from your own creative source- it’s a very fundamental kind of wound. The price for my sojourn on the still waters. They took my pain away, and my vast silence. They took away my empty hallways and starless nights. They took away the gasping shudders and the exhausted quietude that falls when you have no more left to weep away. They took away my heart and put me into some strange foreign twilight land, and I learned of my loss so late. So very late.
Give me back my hurts and my scars. Give me back my broken bones and the cracked up pieces of my own heart. I don’t want a surrogate. Give me back everything that is ugly and furtive and tired, everything that creaks and groans and can’t be fixed. Give me back the endless nights and the glorious mornings. My screams and my full-throated shouts of laughter. My despair and my hope. Give me back the galaxies and the universes in the dust motes, let my blood flow, let my voice speak out. Give me everything back.
Give me back my writing.