I haven't quite been able to write recently. I miss it. To write, I need safe and uninterrupted solitude within which to unspool whatever novice shreds of craftsmanship I have. I can be surrounded by people, as in a coffeeshop or library or hallway -- and sometimes I prefer that -- but I need to be safe from disturbance so that I don't need to keep on anxiously scanning and saving mental stopping points mid-text, always poised to defend my space.
At the same time, I can't write unless I have poured experiences into my life so I have something to pour out onto the page. As a mild extrovert, I fill the garden of my soul with richness by rubbing up against the world, plunging into the universe of people. Experiences, thoughts and sounds and bustle; organic matter tumbling into a bin of moist heat, crumbing into peat, a sweat-soaked fertile soil for growth. Newspaper clippings, soggy remains of texts I've read; eggshells of fragmented conversations, flashes of instinct; observations.
And then I need the quiet rains, and the small stillnesses, where the budded worlds can unfurl through my fingers. And I rummage through them, pricked by thorns and scratched by branches, pruning, propping, pushing, plucking -- learning how to garden, learning how to wait until the fruit is ripe, learning how to ferment something into a bubbling sweetness that is more than all that it has taken in.
It's simple. Life, and sweat, and time -- and willingness to let chocolate-bitter notes swirl into the complexity. I bottle bustle in my wine; I need the stillness, but also the full-filled mess of a lively costumed brawl, and I need solitude. I need to run, and then I need to sprawl onto my back under a grassy sky, soak-drenched and gasping in great draughts of wind. I need the grit of rising early morning after morning plunging into soup-pot days boiling with mirepoix and vigor, and I need the lazy nights and mornings with sheets whipped cool around me, only rising drink slowly from cups of milky coffee piled high with pillowed foam.
I haven't played with words like that for ages. Alliteration ("pruning, propping, pushing, plucking," "bottle bustle") and rhymes with delayed fulfillment ("Life, and sweat, and time" holds out for the word "wine" for as long as I can spool it), metaphors (composting, brewing, cappuccino foam and bedsheets), and other forms of wordplay ("full-filled/fulfilled" and "costumed brawl/costume ball") - I don't plan this; I just write it, and when I look back, I see those techniques in hindsight. I need to learn the discipline of making this a more skillful and subtle art, so I will leave these words as unrevised right now, and someday I may be able to shape it into better-ness. It's still too much; I still write with a heavy hand that tries to grasp its way into the world.
My writing, at its best, reaches for something I'll never hold within this world, a longing that will linger past the edge of my ability. Fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te. I ache to share the world as mystery, but how can I? C'est impossible. Live in a mystery, and words are too pale and poor to transmit more than garbled messages incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't shared it. And those who've shared it know: the mystery is always yours alone, and only the transcendent third can span the gap between you. And so I learn to breathe in a great ocean that drenches in solitude; and so I learn to reverence communion, daß zwei Einsamkeiten einander schützen, grenzen und grüße.
I need my space to write; I cannot cross that space into the world you read from. And that's hard for me, because there's so much that I want to share. I want to share the worlds that have filled me with wonder -- realms of knowledge, circles of friends, communities of practice, safe homes and life-changing schools and great mouthfuls of crisp-spicy food and little moments of experience. And all I can do is open doors into those worlds, and usually I can't even do that; all I can do is wave my hands around and promise they exist, and that they're well worth finding. And so I write.
I don't know what I'm writing any more, or why I'm writing. I write; the images run out, I finish writing, and I wait and wonder. I suppose that's what I do, in this particular kind of writing. I do a lot of other kinds as well, but none that feel so much like blind trust as this kind of writing -- whatever "this kind" is.
And so we write, and so we wait, and so we work -- and our waiting does not excuse us from our working, nor does our work excuse us from our waiting.
And with that, it's time for me to plunge back into the world again.