By Kristen Thompson, Associate Coordinator, Bluegrass Writers Studio
Maybe every writer has a few conditions they have to fulfill to get into the writing groove. Our Fearless Leader allegedly has to -win or lose - play one game of solitaire before composing. Having your favorite coffee cup at the perfect temperature and tangent to your notebook may not guarantee a good day's work, but lacking those circumstances, failure is much more likely. Or so it seems in my creative little mind.
I'm always seeking those perfect circumstances. In his recent interview, faculty member Bob Johnson mentioned that one of the hardest lessons he’s learned as a writer is “how to write anywhere at any time.”
Go-Go Gadget osmosis!
I wish. Being able to write anywhere, anywhen is a lesson I’m learning very slowly. I can free-write in my shed or in the lobby of a doctor’s office at which I have no appointment, as an exercise Natalie Goldberg would be proud of, Writing Down the Bones. But culling any intriguing lines, and arranging into stanzas? That requires finding a position where my shoulder muscles don’t spasm, in a place not too hot, sticky, or overly air-conditioned. There can’t be any stray food smells, clouds to watch, or music to listen to. All must be well in my immediate time-space continuum.
Confession. Because that’s what blogs are about, right? Even if the truth is ugly or cliché? (Please note, reader, that I’m giving you the go-ahead to opt out here if your Facebook feed is crowded. Tune in next Tuesday.)
My cat is missing. My indoor, declawed, canned-tuna-hooked little tuxedo-wearer is just gone. Yesterday morning I woke up to an open front door. Screen door latched. Nothing missing, except one of two cats. The one much less inclined to want to get outside.
Cat stories are a penny a dozen. I don’t want to write a cat story. But how can I write anything without her? If ever there were extreme conditions in which I had learned to write, it was around her affinity for paper, screen, and keyboard. Even the picture on the Lost Cat flier shows her conveniently placing her hind end in my full face. If the universe were in order, she’d be here.
Yet here I am without her, at an angle no coffee cup can reconcile. Mourning a loss that stems from a relocation I am still mourning, which stems from a marital split after ten years, which I am still mourning.
What’s odd is, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. This is the event that made me realize – this is life. I can’t keep waiting to “get over” the latest tragedy so I can write. Obstacles? I need to write through them or around them. I’ve had plenty, historically, that I will spare you.
But right now? Right now there are ants in my Honey-Nut Cheerios. While my cat is missing. As I'm being good, making healthy choices in my late-night snacking, journaling and researching for my thesis. As I’m composing this, heartbroken, there’s an army of ants inside the cereal box and out, even in the cabinet in the exact silhouette of the General Mills area. I hate those ants and I use my harshest sailor-words as I drown them in the sink or kill them with "eco-frendly" poison.
Plus I have empty-belly hiccups from not eating. An aching back and calves, and scrapes on my face and legs from searching the woods. I have to call my family with bad news. Again.
So here I am, writing in the midst of hardships. Point taken. Lesson learned.
You can come home now, sweet whiskery Bella. Aside from that, I give the rest to the ants.
Published on July 09, 2014