I read somewhere recently that some well-known blogger, I don’t remember which one, walks around all the time in constant “write post” mode, always thinking of how this event or that moment would play out in a blog entry. Do you do that, too? I do. Which might surprise you, since I seem to write so infrequently these days, and not even very well when I do. When I peruse entries from a year or two ago I am often surprised by my own wit. So it is in my head, my virtual unwritten brain blog, which is running almost constantly. I actually get excited about how some description or narrative is shaping up on my mental screen, and I can hardly wait to sit down and put it into print. And then I don’t. Or worse, I do, and it sucks, or, and this is what usually happens, I can’t remember half the turns of phrase I so painstakingly worked out in my head: And then I flicked the mouse turd from my desk. No, I flicked the mouse turd from my desk with a post-it. Wait. The mouse turd rolled from my desk with the flick of a post-it.
Mostly I sit around during every free moment I have during the work day reading other people’s brilliant words and vacillating between these two convictions: 1) It sucks that I am actually sitting here flicking mouse turds off my desk with post-its, instead of honing my craft and freelance writing for hip, literate magazines, and 2) What am I thinking? I could never write like these people. These people are brilliant crafters of language, and I am a certified mouse-pooper-scooper. Okay, not really, but you know what I mean. As much as I believe in education, and as much as I like kids, and as much as I enjoy my new job and all its potential, there is always a little voice, a little miniature me in my head asking me when I am going to get on with my writing dreams. And right next to her is my miniature me’s twin, shaking her head and saying, “Look, you don’t actually write about things. You write about nothing. Why would someone want to read about nothing? You’re wasting your time with these–what did you call them?–dreams. Psh.”
This argument goes on in my head almost constantly, but more so when I’m doing a lot of reading–specifically, reading of good quality writing. Reading makes me feel simultaneously like a brilliant writer and someone who attempts to describe magnificent events with words like “nice” and “um, nicer.” It um, sucks, because it makes me tiredl, keeps me from writing, even about the insignificant stuff. I should be making small steps in the direction of this dream thing; instead I am stepping over and over and over myself, whining and writhing in a heap on the dream path all “I can’t write like those people, those writer people, they are writers, and I am naaaaaahhhhtt.” I’ve come to a conclusion about this whole ugly cycle: I need to kill the heckler, or at least put her in a nice self-esteem-building class where other imaginary voices tell her how pretty she is.
Actually, that is not the conclusion I’ve come to at all. What I need to do is write, and also to say, “Oh, me? I am a writer. A librarian and a writer. A writer-librarian.” You know, talk the talk or whatever. I don’t have to be any particular kind of writer just yet, but I need to do the writing. I’ve pretend-studied under Natalie Goldberg, and she says writing practice is a must. It has to happen every day. Every. Day. And so I’m going to write every day do the best I can. I’m going to turn up the writer in my head and try to remember what she says, and I’m going to try to write it all down. Here. Even if it’s about nothing. Even if it’s about that time earlier this week when I moved my keyboard a little to the right and found a tiny, plump mouse turd; and after I did a quick mental calculation of all the times I’ve eaten things I’ve dropped on that very desk, I scraped the mouse turd into a post-it note with another post-it note, flicked it into the trash can, and sat down at the computer to tell all of you. Because that’s what writers do, right?