Back in May, I wrote a post about my inability to write creatively during what was then the middle of the beginning of the pandemic. You can reread it in its entirety here, but here is one conclusion I drew:
Writing creatively takes a huge amount of energy and a real ability both to tap into the extremes of human thoughts and feelings, but also to want to. Right now, all I want to do is keep my life and the lives of those I care about even, calm and quiet, taking one unexciting day after another, without undue risks or journeys, be they physical or metaphorical. Staying on the even keel…refers to takes an exorbitant amount of energy when the waters around you are so choppy and the waves so threatening. That is all I can do just now… There is a future out there somewhere, and when it comes, I have to believe that I will once again become a junkie for those sensations that come with intensive sustained writing and creativity…But until then, they might just have to wait.
Three months have passed since then. Perhaps more has changed than I would have thought, because yesterday at breakfast the title for a poem popped into my head. Over the past few months I would have ignored it, too drained or too distracted to give it the attention I knew it would need. But yesterday, instead of scrolling through Facebook and Twitter over my muesli, I opened up a blank document on my iPad and wrote down the title. Then I wrote the next line, and then the next. Ten minutes later, with my husband sitting beside me reading his NY Times, I had a poem , all 30 lines and 9 stanzas of it. Then, later in the day, I printed it out, went to another room and read it aloud. That is my usual way to edit. And edit I did, changing words, redividing lines, and even tweaking the original title.
I haven’t had a poem pour out of me like that in months and months. It’s been so long that I can’t tell if the poem is any good or not (so I’m not going to share it with you here). But the value of the poem, actually, isn’t even the point. The important fact is that I wrote it and that must mean something within me has shifted. Am I less worried and anxious about the present state of the world and my country? I doubt that very much. Have I just gotten used to living with this amount of stress? Perhaps. The waters around me that I imagined in my previous post are just as choppy and threatening. Yet, I started writing again. This one poem may be my last for another several months. I don’t know. But I can now see that the creative writer in me is still there, perhaps a bit sleepy but at least capable of waking up. And I can’t tell you how reassuring that is to me.
I have had this discussion with many writers around the world over the past few months. Many of us are going through the same dry spell as I have been. Maybe my experience can be reassuring to them, as well.