Sitting down to write takes discipline, more discipline than I can muster most days.
Whatever it is that made its home in my chest all those years ago and has crouched there ever since, eating away at the words in the core of my being, it’s part of who I am, now. The closest I get to creativity is baking bread, and even that is little more than routine, most weeks. I still sing, sometimes, almost by accident – the songs rise up in me unbidden. I wouldn’t say I am a singer. Some nights I feel moved to play guitar, or even (for a laugh) pick up the ukulele; it always makes me happy, though the happiness is tinged with recognition that I could be so much better. Maybe even now, I could be so much better, if I practised.
What stops me?
I’m sitting down to write this because somebody has died. It’s too raw, too recent for me to find the right words, and I bitterly wish I could, at least for her daughter’s sake. At times like these, the experience of living is pared down to the stone-hard seeds of truth buried at the centre of your being. Life goes crazily on. Bees buzz in the clover; young lads with their shirts piled on the grass fish for bream; coots bob around their nets; schoolgirls shriek and push each other. World is crazier, and more of it than we think, Incorrigibly plural. There are acorns swelling on the burr oak, each one a unique and evanescent presence on this earth.
She was a painter. Her paintings were wonderful. Her youngest is a painter, too; a brush for hire, a damn good one. Her eldest designs and hand-crafts clothes that conjure up fantastic worlds. A lot of people from those old days, back in Wales, create things for a living – artwork, music, stories.
I don’t want to create things for a living; I want to create things so that I can be more fully alive.
All I have are words. As recently as yesterday, I thought I’d lost even those – I actually thought I might never think in full prose again. A small victory for that voracious emptiness living in my chest. But I keep writing. Inspired by the wise words of Nimue’s recent blog post, The Quest for Inspiration, I sat down to write today, and I kept writing.
I may never find the words to express the dance of leaf-light on the bare earth beneath the oak tree in the park this evening, nor the words I so desperately wish could comfort my oldest friend – but if I keep writing, keep learning, keep honing the few words that I have, perhaps I really could be so much better. As long as I am taking up space in the universe, I feel I ought at least to try.