Monday, March 8, 2010

On Not Writing - Mar. 6, 2010

I’ve watched six cars back up the hill so far.  The wind is waking up so light flurries of snow blow into my face as I wait the extra twenty-eight minutes required of those who miss their train at the Rutesheim S-Bahn station on a weekend.  Damn snow.  It was sunny and verging on warm – in direct sunlight – this week, a tease of spring everyone’s got to be jonesing for come March.  Yesterday – it was gorgeous, blue-sky kiss all day yesterday, and this morning I’m shoveling at least six inches of maddening fluff off my car.  Forget the three near-collisions from which I slid just shy on the way to the station, I am not missing today.


People, the ones who didn’t miss their train, the ones who are, in fact, early for their train are starting to blow in with the snow, stomping the weather from their pant legs and nodding frosty hellos.  My fingers are numb and my nose is threatening a drip.


I’ve forgotten my iPod, probably sitting next to my pack of tissues and cell phone by the front door.  I’m annoyed, cold, and late, but maybe this would be one those unplanned writing opportunities I just read about in Writer’s Digest.  The article said that one must marry her life to writing.  There’s something I need to do, recommit.  Ask me what fills me up and turns me on, what can keep me burning into the wee hours of the morning without concern for the coming day’s responsibilities, and I’ll tell you without hesitation, writing.  But ask me when the last time that actually happened, and I’ll quickly change the subject.  

The train is finally here.

Writing, that which defined me from a tender age, that presence forever in my life to engage me or taunt me.  It is truly a relationship in and of itself, and there are days…

When we first moved abroad and settled into arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world, where I consciously decided to not work outside the house, to focus on my writing and soak up this amazing opportunity, I got blocked.  For five years.  We got to travel and taste places in the world we never even thought about, but I couldn’t write about it.  I was drenched, I was soaking in so much, but couldn’t muster a line that felt like it actually came from somewhere meaningful.  Now looking back I’ll admit there were moments, brief as they were, that warmed what had gone cold, but moments weren’t what I craved, what I expected from myself given such insanely optimal circumstances.  And it wasn’t as if I didn’t want to write.  I did.  I was just dry, somehow, in the writing zone of my brain and I’ve never been good with self-imposed requirements.  Daily journaling lasted only as long as it didn’t feel like an obligation.  Give me a deadline or an assignment as a person outside my head and I’m all over it, forever the eager to please student.  Just don’t be me giving it.

An announcement has just come over the speakers on the train, something other than the pre-recorded stop announcements, and after confirming with a group of boys standing to exit, it seems this morning’s unexpected snowfall has made a stretch of tracks unsafe, so we’re to get off the train and hop aboard replacement buses.  This will be my first bus experience living in Germany.  I consider for a moment crossing over to catch the train right back to my station and scrap the day, blaming it on bad weather and certain and unfamiliar circumstances, but decide to be brave.  I will follow the herd.  Moo.

Back on the train in Zuffenhausen, I’m wondering just how late I’ll be to this month’s writers’ meeting.  Another announcement I don’t quite get.  I understand “Entschuldigung,” which can’t be good.  They’re asking to be pardoned.  But back to my writing pad and thoughts of not writing…I feel stuck, but not exactly stuck because it feels more like I’m free-floating, unable to grab onto anything at all.  Not an idea; not a line.

I once wrote a letter to Writing, expressing my longing for its return and disgust for its absence in the same breath.  What had I done wrong?  Couldn't we talk about this?  Why couldn’t I come up with anything worth jotting down?  I couldn’t make myself sit and write mindlessly without concern for the finished piece like you’re supposed to if you’re feeling stuck.  I wished a didn’t care, and so that day I decided to let go of it, hoping that whole “set it free and it will return” thing had something to it.  To be honest, I felt rejected, abandoned, but by what?  My writing self, I supposed, that spark inside that lit me up when I got going.  I remember turning off my laptop and walking away, feeling relief, but only slight.  If I wasn’t struggling to write, what was I doing?  A writer friend I’d met through an on-line writers’ workshop had told me not to feel pressured to produce while at the start of this incredible time in my life, to let it soak in and percolate a while.  And so I’ve been brewing ever since.  That was nearly six years ago.

When will this God-forsaken pot of coffee be done?  Something has got to happen beyond flashes of passion to work on my novel, or anything, that last about as long as any flash might.

I can see the Hauptbahnhof ahead.  I have no idea what time it is, but I know I’m more than fashionably late.  And I don’t even have a damned thing to share.

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