Sometimes writing is as laborious as pulling weeds from the yard. Regardless of how hard you try, you’re never going to reach the roots. But the other day I wrote a piece about the day a friend of mine nearly drowned while pheasant hunting in Nebraska. I wanted to tell the story for awhile, for both the story itself and as a warning to others about why you should try to never hunt alone, but hadn’t done so yet.
For me, writing is like playing a piano, or even typing itself. It’s muscle memory for both the hands and the brain. When I am not writing a lot, it usually takes much longer for me to get in a groove than when I’m doing it everyday. But everyday constitutes a workout, and my relationship with writing is not much different than my relationship with staying away from ice cream or running. I love when I do them all, and feel better about myself when I do, but it’s damn hard for me at times.
Years ago, I hammered myself because I didn’t write everyday. I had windows where I wrote a lot, and then long periods of not writing at all. So much in fact that I created a chart which hung on the back of our house in Bellevue. Writing was one of my goals each day, and I would check off a section each time I penned something.
Nowadays, I’m more comfortable that this is how I do things. I write, write, write, take a day off, and don’t write for a week. I’m almost embarrassed for myself to tell how others write. I know Knopp writes everyday, and does so for a certain amount of time. Each time we speak, I welcome, yet also dread, her query of “Are you writing?” My answer is always ‘yes,’ whether or not I’m crossing my fingers. Farrar is even worse. I’ll tell him about my weekend of going swimming, or catching fish, or sitting in a deer stand, and he’s telling me about forgetting to eat, or not even knowing the weather, because he’s buried in his basement typing away. So I try to avoid him as much as possible.
On the other hand, and I’m sure this happens to Knopp and Farrar as well, I’ve seen writers seize up. Can’t think what to write next. Know something isn’t correct but don’t know how to fix it. Don’t know how to tell something that they think is original.
I didn’t run into that problem with the survival story. Probably because I was there and it was “my story.” On insecure days I think “they’ve heard a drowning story before,” yet on confident days the thought is more like “they’ve never heard my drowning story.” Yesterday it was the latter.
Which means two things: 1) For a brief writing moment, everything in the world was fine. It was a runner’s high. 2) Because of this high, no negative comments regarding my story are needed if you don’t like it…Well, I take that back. Maybe when you read it I’ll be in a good mental state and can take all of your punches. If you learn nothing else as a writer, you learn rejection…Sometimes. So write me…or keep your thoughts to yourself….no, no, no, tell me what you think. Maybe…