March 18, 2018


I'm sitting in the same spot at The Lodge where, three months ago, I casually decided that because I had one piece to write, the bit about ninth grade, I was going to start a blog.  I think it started the way all blogs start, with a set of good intentions and enough tinder to get a fire started, followed by looking up Blogger versus Wordpress.  Some people have a good idea and a framework and a mission statement, and they keep to their theme.  Recipes.  Political happenings.  Photographs of various types of turtles.

Me?  I just wanted to write about my student teacher, and see if perhaps I had a few more things to say.  I assumed all along it would be the idiomatic flash in the pan, the quickly-snuffed project that bi-polar folks tend to begin and never finish.  I'd tried to blog before and never made it past five posts before I got disgusted and deleted the entire thing.  Except for the one about Weight Watchers and learning to like green beans.  That one lasted for two months, precisely as long as my tolerance for dieting lasted.  It's a bunch of overwritten sectors and scattered electrons now, too.

Why am I writing?  I can tell you all the reasons I'm not writing, but knowing those doesn't provide enough graphite dust to scatter on the paper and reveal the patterns, the real reason or reasons.

What I know is this:  I didn't write, and now I do.  A dam did not burst.  Instead, somewhere on top of a high mountain, a little rivulet of snow melt began trickling down and deviated and formed a new path, barely noticed, and that is the headwater of my writing.  The water keeps coming, never much at a time, but it's starting to form a little arroyo and establishing itself as a going concern.

I don't get floods, though when hypomanic, the ideas sometimes rain down.  That hasn't happened since the inception.  My ideas come one at a time.

As I don't really do trust, this is a new and strange thing for me:  Enough water flows through the channel now to bring me something each day.  I don't know what time it will happen, or what it will consist of, or whether it will be sad or funny or introspective or reminiscent.  I can't sit down in the morning and say to myself, "Today I will write about [thing]."  I have to wait for it.  It always comes.  I am learning to wait and trust the process.

It always comes.  I encounter some small detail in the course of my day, and then this wheel-turning sensation begins somewhere in the middle-back of my head.  It's a physical sensation.  Left and right start talking to each other, and then there is my post, all laid out, just waiting to be typed.

P.J. asks if I have to work at it, based on a framework, or whether the writing just comes out in a sort of blurt.  It's the latter, but then I go back and edit and tighten things up, sometimes days later.  A repeated word, or a better way of telling a piece of story.

I'm still writing down bones.  At this point, mostly the little ones that only a handful of orthopedists can rattle off by name.  I don't share a basement with Stephen King's muse.  Save for the depression days, I don't stare at a blank page and push myself to effort.  I'm just pouring out cupped hands of water.

Should the trickle slow and dwindle - and it will - I will still sit cross-legged by its path and wait, because of what a few treasured people have said to me.  P.J. says I have "the chops".  A friend says I have a voice he recognizes.  Another, that she is glad I am finally doing what I've been meant to do all along.  And perhaps the most important one, still ringing in my ears:  "You make me laugh, and then cry."  I've heard "you have a gift for this" enough times now to get my attention.  I don't think that I do.  But one of the few things that stuck in my mind from college was about communication:  It has nothing to do with what you say, and everything to do with what is heard.

Whether or not I have a gift, this is my writing's highest and best use:  I want to be so raw and flawed and brutally honest that it will in some way, at some time, make another out there feel less alone, a little bit understood.  It's why I have to capture each handful of water without spilling a drop.  Being audaciously open gives my illness a purpose, spins it into an asset and creates a vantage point from which I can perceive and ponder and then tell the truth, in my own voice.

It's all for naught, if I don't tell the truth.

Well, that's it, then, isn't it?  That is why I write.

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