Defragging the mental hard drive

I’m sitting as a desk that a few days ago was considered trash by its former owner, that is until my husband saw it and gave a renewed life in our home.  I am sitting in a chair that once held someone else’s butt, and a trip to a thrift store and five-dollars later and it now holds my butt.  I am typing on a computer that was a craigslist purchase from someone who refurbed what someone else threw away.  Nothing that is directly involved with this post started with me.

But then again, does anything ever really start with me?

I can claim that the idea is the only thing that originated with me, but is that even true?  God knows every single hair on my head and every thought inside of it.  Does he have everything I will ever write all planned out?  Does he just dole them out to me like rations?  We each have a gift that is given to us by God to use for the advancement of his kingdom.  Is writing the gift he gave me, or is it just something he gave me to pass the time?

As you can see this post has no real direction.  I don’t know where the word will lead.  All I know is that I was sitting on my couch a little while ago and my fingers got that familiar feeling.  As a writer do you know the feeling that I am talking about?  It’s that feeling that you just have to get a pen in your hand or get your fingers on a keyboard.  It’s that feeling that you have to create words on a page in front of you.  It’s that feeling that you have to get words out of your head or you will go crazy keeping them prisoner.  It’s that feeling that you have to write as much as you have to breathe just to survive.  Do you know that feeling?

Some days the words pour out in a great terrifying and exhilarating rush.  They come almost faster that you can get them written down.  By the time you are done you are left exhausted and energized.  You really have no idea what you just wrote and to go back and read it leaves you amazed that your brain was able to produce such a piece of art.  And then there are the days where pulling the words out of your head is the hardest thing you have ever done.  You have to coax them with patience and love and meaningless writing just to get the juices flowing.  You sit in front of a blank page with the pen staring back at you, waiting.  Or you look at the flashing cursor on your screen as it mocks you because the words just aren’t there.  The cursor and the ink pen have a job to do and sometimes it feels like the tools that we love, the tools that help bring forth our art, are more our enemies than anything else.

I once saw a meme on Facebook that depicted the perfect writing tool for a person such as you and me.  I don’t know about you but it seems that I always get great ideas for a short story or poem while I am laying bed about to fall asleep.  This meme showed a person lying in bed, asleep, while wearing a cap with an arm that came out of the top that held a pen.  That pen wrote down every idea that the sleeping writer had.  No more lost ideas.  How wonderful would that be?  To wake up in the morning and see what my sleeping brain produced.  It would be scary and exciting all at the same time.  I know what kind of dreams I have at night, so I wonder what kind of things my pen would write down for me to discover in the morning.  I wonder if it would be a bit like automatic writing during a séance.

Why was I given this desire to always write?  It was never something that I had to try to do.  I discovered when I was young that I could put words together in an interesting order that (usually) held a readers interest.  I took Creative Writing in high school because I thought I might learn something new, but instead breezed through the class by writing my assignments in my Experimental Psychology class the hour before they were due.  I loved that class.  It was my second favorite class in the four years that I walked the hallowed halls of my high school . . . second only to my band classes.

I have a fear of public speaking, but right here I can say anything.  I can write anything.  Do you know why?  Because you have absolutely no idea who I am.  I could be the girl standing in front of you at the grocery store, or the woman who cut you off as you drove down the highway to work this morning.  I could be anyone.  I could be the midday girl on your favorite country radio station.  If you don’t listen to country music on the radio though, then I guess I am not that girl.  The truth is that right here, right now I can be anyone that I want to be.  I am completely anonymous, which is liberating for the woman who is terrified of public speaking and makes her living talking into a microphone to roughly 50,000 people a day.  But there is anonymity there also.  I stand in my studio all alone when doing my airshift.  I am not talking to people.  I am talking to a microphone.  And right now I am writing for no one in particular.  I am writing to empty all of the bits and pieces from my head that have collected over the last few days.  I am defragging my mental hard drive, if you will.  That is why this post is like a billboard for a-d-d.

So as I sit at my salvaged desk, in my thrift store chair, and type on my craigslist laptop I still don’t know where the words come from.  I know why they come.  The words come because if they didn’t I wouldn’t be able to survive.  Or would I?  If it weren’t writing would it be something else?  Would I be passionate about kitting, baking cupcakes, discovering a cure for chronic stupidity, or finding the fastest route to the bathroom when in crowded places?  Everybody is passionate about something, and we are all passionate about that thing for very different reasons.  You can find two or three people who share a passion for, say, donut holes, but each of those people have a different reason behind their donut hole passion.  Maybe one person just has a raging sweet tooth (that would be me), and another person wants to be a pastry chef, and the other person is trying to overcome a fear of foods that resemble golf balls.

We each come to our talent, our God-given gift for different reasons.  My passion is rooted in introversion.  The words, thoughts and feeling have to come out somehow, but sometimes my mouth just can’t get them out.  But my fingers always can.  Writing is my second voice.  What fuels your writing?  What are you passionate about, and why?

Last year I wrote a book.  I bought a purple spiral notebook and decided that I would write a novel just to see if I could do it, to see if I could actually finish it.  Seven months, two purple spiral notebooks, countless ink pens, anger, joy, frustration, happiness, discouragement, a few pep talks later I finished it.  I published it on Amazon exactly one year ago today.  It never did become a best-seller.  As a matter of fact, it barely sold at all.  I figured up my royalties today and they came to just under $17.00.  But the point of that project was not to make money.  It was to set a goal for myself and see if I could actually follow through, and I did.  I learned a lot about myself last year, things that most people learn as they are growing up.  But lacking in self-confidence while growing up, keeping my writing a secret, and too many people telling me that I couldn’t do something eventually convinced me that they were right.  I learned last year though that I could do it.  I could set a goal for myself that some people thought was crazy and unattainable, and I could make it a reality for myself.

Immediately after I finished my book I decided to write another, but a year later I still have yet to purchase another spiral notebook.  I think it’s not that I don’t want to write another book.  It’s that I already know I can do it if I want to.  I don’t have to prove it to myself again.

I grew sunflowers last summer.  I have always been the kind of person that can’t even keep a houseplant alive, but I decided to undertake a flower garden.  They got big and beautiful and bright, happy yellow.  Another accomplishment.  Will I grow sunflowers again this summer?  I don’t know.  Maybe, if for no other reason than the front of my bland apartment could use the cheerfulness of Mammoth Sunflowers.  This summer my goal is to maintain an entire vegetable garden for a season.  My peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers may die but I am going to give it shot.

I do have a writing goal for this year, too.  I want to be published in a literary magazine.  It doesn’t have to be a hugely popular one.  I just want to be published in one that pays in contributor’s copies.  I want to see my name and one of my poems in print for no other reason than to say that I was able to do it.

Setting those goals for myself reminds me that I can do things for myself, and that I don’t live solely for everybody else.  There are people in my life who try to take everything from me because they feel that they are entitled to it, but those people can’t take the words that live inside of me.  They can’t take my goals and dreams.  They can’t take everything from me.  Maybe that is why I write, so that I still always have something left for myself.  I can choose to share it with you, but ultimately it will always belong to me.

Mental hard drive defragged . . . for now.

Until next time . . .

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