Friends sometimes ask me if I still write. I give them the factual answer: I do. Three pages of free-flow writing (almost) every morning, according to the school of Julia Cameron. But that’s me dodging the question. They want to know if I am still writing creatively for an audience or with an audience in mind. The true answer: I don’t. Or I haven’t been. My excuse is that I have a large project percolating, but again, that isn’t the true story.
I’m harbouring some unproductive patterns, and the effort to break out seems immense. Somehow, the two-point-five metres between the couch and my desk has become an insurmountable distance, no matter how many rules I try to impose on myself. Then, even if I’ve made it to the desk, a thousand distractions lurk between logging into my laptop and opening any word processing software. Even as I’m slogging through quagmires of aggregators, clicking link after link to view pointless images, I know that stringing phrases into sentences however horrible, however few is a better use for my time than what I’m doing. But there’s always one more link to click, one more comment thread to read, and then it’s too late to go to bed early. Again.
So I write this because I want to return to something without going backwards. Whatever I was writing 10 years ago is not what I will produce now, under these circumstances, with these surroundings. I’m no longer interested in adhering to a schedule or delivering n posts per week. This space is no longer a goal in itself. But it’s as good a place as any to experiment with putting one word next to another, just to see how they fit.
I’ve been writing long enough to know that writing about not writing is the very worst kind of procrastination while at the same time being crucial to getting past the not-writing stage. True story.
So the intent was always to post something once a week. Not just anything though. Something good. And fuck if that plan didn’t seize up my creative muscles until I was just barely getting by on what I could squeeze out for the unbelievably easy to please office crowd. Between perfectionism, feeling generally uncommunicative, and a couple of extracurricular editing contracts, I have been pretty well silent here for nearly a month.
Someone at work today told me it’s winter. Which is impossible because the world is still green and yellow and red and orange. These West Coasters don’t understand my winters, and I’m not sure I understand theirs . But I am in love with this lazy autumn. My street is littered with big orange-gold leaves, and just today, I conceded that the mornings are a bit too chilly for my heavy summer jacket and shrugged into my light wool coat. The rains will start soon enough, and I’ll have to learn to deal with the damp heavy darkness. It’s amazing what the sight of green grass can do for the soul at this time of year.
Somewhere else it’s NaNoWriMo. And Movember. But I am participating in a different kind of contest. A photo challenge to document aspects of my world with a different focus each day. I don’t have any aspirations to join the ranks of my many photographer friends. It simply seems like a good opportunity to re-engage with the world I find myself moving through. I’ve been disconnected and distant so far. Reluctant to force my way in anywhere. But it’s time to connect with this city a bit more. Learn it for what it is and isn’t. Take us both for what we are.