Thursday night my newly-formed writing group had our first meeting, and it went really well. We took a prompt from Lydia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water, a book that B. and L. are both quite fond of. We found a passage that read: “write like a terrorist just busted in and threatened to kill you all—like you have a semi-automatic machine gun at your skull.” And we decided that’s what we’d do, we’d write out of terror. We’d write like we were afraid that a pulled trigger could end it all.
But being told how to write and what to write are very different things. I had no idea where to begin. So to make the prompt even more specific, to give me something to run with, I flipped the pages of Yuknavitch’s book and chose a first line:
But then I was busy. Busy raging, grieving, fucking up.
I wrote myself crazy. I wrote myself ragged. By the end of those 20 or 25 minutes I was tired. I didn’t expect much to come out, and I had no idea where the prompt would take me. As it turns out it took me to some pretty dark places. No big surprise given the words I chose for my first line, but still.
I got 763 words on the page. I haven’t read what I wrote and, to be honest, I’m afraid to. I’m not afraid of seeing my own bad writing; rather, I’m afraid of seeing the content, the rawness of some of the details I captured.
What’s most important—what struck me the most from this exercise—is where I arrived with this piece. My last sentence:
Sometimes I wish I did not have so much to write about.
I’ve thought a lot lately about the volume of writing I’ve been doing and how my life is changing as a result. I start writing around 9pm and by 11:00 or 11:30 I’m just starting to wind down, not because I’ve run out of things to write about, but because I know I need to start turning my brain off. I need to prepare for sleep.
Truly, it’s hard to not write these days. I’m not sure where this motivation is coming from, or what the catalyst is for all of these words pouring out of me. I try not to hyper-analyze, but I feel like there’s something to it all. I feel like I am meant to do something, though I have no idea what that something is.
I told my therapist last year that I wanted to be married to my writing. I think it’s finally happened. This is a thing I cannot ignore.
This is what matters most in my life right now. Sometimes I wish it did not, but this is how it is and I must approach the page with appreciation, grateful that this part of me is more alive than it has been in ages.
And because writing matters so much right now, I want it to matter to those I care about. I know a lot of writers and, as it happens, only a few of them are actively writing these days. I want them to write because I know that for them, just as it is for me, writing is a necessary thing. I equate this to eating a good meal. I want those sitting at the table with me to be fed and nourished with the things they love. I want them to taste what I am tasting: this sweet, delicious thing.