You may have had the kind of day I’m having today…. Fallow. Not enough energy to write, or play, or do much more than what must be done. Whether it’s the weather, or some other force of nature (hormones? the stars?) doesn’t matter — it’s a mood, and it’s here.
So, how do I keep writing from this place? I may not be able to. (Wait — I’m writing a blog post!) Rephrase: I may not be able to do the work that’s on my writing “to do” list. But look, ma — no hands, ma! — I’m writing a blog to make myself feel better.
This is the irony of being a writer, the one I successfully ignore most times. I get the blues, and all my ambition to write seems ridiculous. So I write about it…. It’s kind of silly, but it’s true. And I have to do it even though I listen to the radio thinking that anyone who has published a book, written a news article, acted in a show, has in fact done anything short of violence or idiocy, anyone out there has accomplished more than me.
Norton Juster, author of The Phantom Tollbooth (one of my favorite books of all time!) was interviewed on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me today. Yesterday, I would have loved it. Today I felt jealous. Where was my children’s book!? (In my computer – I felt worse….) I look at my “to do” list, and wilt…. I think I need to finish this blog, do some gardening, and go see something mindless and violent like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. Now that was a fun book. Why didn’t I write that book? Oh, geez. I’m like a dog with a neurotic bone. Was that metaphor over the top? Probably. But probably not over the top enough to express the blueness of my blue blue mood!
I never gained control of my mind—how do you dominate an ocean—but I began to form a real relationship with it. Through writing and meditation I identified monkey mind, that constant critic, commentator, editor, general slug and pain-in-the-ass, the voice that says, “I can’t do this, I’m bored, I hate myself, I’m no good, I can’t sit still, who do I think I am?” I saw that most of my life had been spent following that voice as though it were God, telling me the real meaning of life—“Natalie, you can’t write shit”—when, in fact, it was a mechanical contraption that all human minds contain. Yes, even people with terrific, supportive parents are inhabited by this blabbing, resistant mouthpiece. But as I wrote longer, went deeper, I realized its true purpose: monkey mind is the guardian at the gate. We have to prove our mettle, our determination, stand up to its nagging, shrewish cry, before it surrenders the hidden jewels. And what are those jewels? Our own human core and heart, of course. (16)
OK. I’m at the gate again. I feel better. Kind of.