It’s been a year since I’ve had caffeine – and it’s been HELL!
Specifically, my signature black tea, and more specifically, sometimes a half a gallon a day!
I was sitting back today, calm as a koala on eucalyptus, thinking I should be doing something – like writing. And it’s been a year since I’ve had real flow.
That flow where you sit back and the ideas come. That flow wherein you read the news and see how each story can become a hundred short stories, a disaster novel, and a rom-com.
I consider how I used to sit at the dining room table, hot cup of black tea mere millimeters from my fingertips, and type like a hamster on a wheel. Go. Go. Go!
It’s the lack of caffeine – of course- which has caused my caustic dry spell. I glance toward the kitchen, knowing, somewhere in there, lies a discarded tea bag at the bottom of an unused drawer.
Screw the doctors! To hell with anxiety! I shall abandon caution and dive over the cliffs of caffeine haven.
I hesitate, like I do now while strung out on herbal bounty, and consider, weigh the pros and cons, and question my decision. Damn chamomile.
A knock on the door steals my attention. (Caffeine improves focus – pro). I pop off the couch and spring toward the door. (No late afternoon caffeine drag – con). I throw open the door. There, on my patio, a tower of chocolates.
Sometimes it’s the smallest things that worms into the back seals of our functioning. loosening the stopper, and causing fissures which disrupt our well-being.
Most of those worms are so small, they are unseen to the human eye. We may not even know what is bothering us, but something is. Other times, we know it’s an insignificant movement which shouldn’t bother us.
But it does.
It creeps in, the leakage begins.
There’s a sense of right and wrong, good and bad, and someone or something has crossed that ethereal line.
They probably don’t even realize they’ve done it. For each of us those lines are different, sometimes wavy and indistinguishable.
I tell myself it doesn’t matter that the neighbor has left the end of their car hanging into my driveway or that the clerk has overcharged by a portion. But things like these seems to weigh on me more than they should.
Characters need such issues, such efforts; it makes them human, makes them relatable. We are not the only ones who become distracted at the off-centered tie clip, miffed at the chipped nail polish.
In Mirror People, Jewels reacts to Marnie’s odd behavior. It’s something that builds underneath. She’s not even certain what it is, but something annoys her. In Paperwasps, a whole city block falls apart, one person is perfectly content, yet another can’t deal – but What’s bothering them, really? Is it something that has seeped into their brain some time ago?
I really don’t know how many people read my blog posts. For the past year or so, at various times, I have posted several pieces with subtitles like “A stream of consciousness rant, or lament, etc. from “The Red Wing Chronicles (A stream Of Consciousness Personal Exorcism). This is my latest book- part memoir of my first 30 years or so, and part stream of consciousness rant. Stream of consciousness is a technique in which the writer’s thoughts are quickly rendered into written words with minimal thought or fermentation. James Joyce, Jack Kerouac, and Virginia Wolf have used this technique in various of their works and when it is successful it often is akin to a jazz improvisation in words.
Although the words often flowed, this was a difficult book to write. My childhood was hardly a pleasant one. It was rife with serious illness, bullying and family abuse. The…
Today, listening to the soft roar of the waves while walking on the beach, I thought about life’s passions – that thing or those things a person dedicates themselves to until the day they die.
I heard a podcast about an 84 year old man who went on his 121st sunken ship treasure hunt. I remember the stories of Einstein on his death bed still working on his next theory. How wonderful to be that passionate about something that you don’t want to stop ever!
I want to live with that passion. I want to always look forward and be working on my next passion project. Some people wait for retirement to travel or write or follow their life’s desire. But I want to live every day bathing in that fervor.
While work and other projects sometimes keeps me from writing, I can’t completely blame those things. As a teenager, I wrote endlessly, not concerned with sales or promotion. These things, I’ve come to understand, are what temper my passion for writing. The idea of the work that comes after the publication. The work a writer must do these days.
There must be a happy medium. My goal is to live more in my passion. Just write.
Getting away, even if for a day or a weekend, is so important to refresh the creative spirit. Whether or not you actually work or write on this get away isn’t the valuable moment – it’s a temporary respite from the usual.
Research shows “blue space” and “green space” (the beach and the woods) do our minds and bodies good.
Having not taken a trip in the last 18 months has left my spirit in a state of desolation.
Therefore, I took a drive up the coast and landed in Cambria. Cambria is known, I think, as a beach town, but I stayed tucked away in a little cabin in the woods – I got my green space and my blue space. I didn’t write so much as I walked, explored, meandered – but it was enough. It was a gift to my pandemic weary spirit, a reset. Ending the old, beginning anew. It felt nearly normal again.
I returned refreshed, ready for the school year to begin, ready to finish another story.
Runaway. Runaway often. Near or far. Explore. Unplug.
Some time during my teenage years, maybe I appreciated music so loud it pounded out reality and forced me to live in between the beats of the drum.
Mostly, however, I don’t want to live between those beats.
As much as I enjoy music, I enjoy the people around me just as much. When we are seeing a band or hearing a new song, it’s the conversation, ideas, opinions, and other things I want coming through just as evenly balanced.
Loud music subtracts – for me.
I know a number of artists, writers, and others who feel it is the very loud music that helps them escape and create.
But for me – the thrumping, bumping, strumming does not allow room for creation – or conversation.
I do enjoy the thick lovely tones of strong vocals belting out meaningful lyrics – but in moderation.
I’m a person who appreciates balance, creates within.
Life, however, can often be off balance – and I still must create. Maybe that’s why the things I can control – like volume – works around my creative efforts.
I stumbled upon a video of Stephen King last night. In it he stated that he had the idea for The Dome in 1973, but he didn’t have the maturity to write it. The idea, he seems to indicate, needed to marinate.
I believe that. Some ideas need to marinate, form, develop. And sometimes we have to wait for more experience or more education to be able to make the story real, believable, and relatable.
Stephen King says he doesn’t keep a notebook (or at least in the short clip I watched), but that good ideas stick around. I, personally, keep a notebook. I also have sticky notes, journals, notes all around the house, in my desk, my nightstand, and occasionally in the kitchen recipe drawer (I don’t know how they got there!), and in different files on my computer. I like to refer back – and sometimes I find that an idea I had 5 or 10 years ago has come stuck around and developed into a story.
After my book Eddy was published, I found notes in files from long before that I’d completely forgotten about. Good ideas do stick around. But sometimes the memory plays tricks!
It was suggested to me recently that I give up writing for awhile.
My mouth fell open and my eyes widened. “Give up writing?”
I was in shock. I jumped to defense, ready to tackle, grab the ball and run for the 50 yard line.
What would I do with all the voices in my head? All the characters who wrangle for a voice, the scenes that require breath to be brought to life? These are real things in writer’s heads. People, places, stories. Non-writers don’t readily understand that.
(I wonder what it’s like to live in a non-writer’s head? What goes on in there if there are no stories? Is there math? *Shudder).
Who in their write/right mind would “give up” their passion, their purpose.
She asked, “What does writing mean to you?”
I realize my defense is not really an answer. What does writing mean to me? I know what is used to mean – it was a survival mechanism. But it was more than that too.
I’m still working on it by the way – a current, present answer to what writing means to me. I just know I can’t not write.
Share with me please – what does writing mean to you?