Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Well, this week has been truly too challenging to allow me to write like a motherfucker. Alas. Instead, I've been writing emails and long, long journal entries, and listening to early music. Alex Ross, the music critic for the New York Times, got me started with this absolutely gorgeous piece by Renaissance composer Josquin des Prez. It has done me good to listen to such beauty, this piece of mourning and remembrance for another composer. It is worth five minutes of your life.

(Also, check out this shoutout for a concert poster masterminded by my friends, the Spektral Quartet, on the same blog. I know neat people.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

it was already late enough, and a wild night

Well, hello.

It's been a few months, yes? I could say I've been busy. It wouldn't be a lie. I've been dealing with heartbreak, talking to people, reading, making too much food, traveling, moving furniture around endlessly, adjusting to living alone again. I could use those things as an excuse but it would ring false--I did those things before. I've always done those things. So why?

I'm not sure. Five months ago, when my relationships ended, I was so tired and heartsick and worn to the bone by despair that writing was completely out of the question--I couldn't stand to bare my heart anymore than I already had, as it were. To do so felt perilous. Dangerous. Because if I let go of those last bits, what would I have left? An empty studio apartment and an air mattress, or so I felt. I've always written more and better things when I was happy, and there seemed to be so little to say. For months I've wandered around, thinking about writing, waiting to start seeing the world with the eyes of somebody who intends to tell other people about it, but I just couldn't. The days, even the good ones, were passing me by, unmarked.

The one place I've been writing is my journal. Pages upon pages upon pages: something like three hundred to three hundred fifty in the past four months alone, a mind-boggling number for somebody claiming writers block. I can only talk, it seems, to myself. Almost every single night I sit down, drink about four cups of tea, making faces at my inspirational tea bag sayings (they aren't even as fun as fortune cookies: "Wherever you go, go with all your heart." In bed! "Empty yourself and let the universe fill you." In bed! Eep.) and write letters to myself about what happens next for an hour before I fall asleep. It's deeply therapeutic, but still, it misses the mark.

I've also been reading Dear Sugar, advice columns by an anonymous writer that nearly always make me cry and absolutely always make me seethe with my desire to write. One of her mottoes is "Write like a motherfucker" (In bed! Well, maybe), and tonight I read the column that inspired it. And you know what? I haven't been doing the work. I've been waiting for some switch inside my head to flip back to "on" so that I can magically start feeling words gush out of me again and feel incredible and elated and so fucking high on joy I can't sleep, but I haven't been doing anything to make it happen. Waiting is a passive act; writing is an active one. As Sugar says, "Do you think [coal] miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig."

I never needed to be a writer, as we say when we discuss things we do for a living; I have many other things that I already am that are heart-filling and life-affirming. But do I need to write? That is a different question. Maybe yes, maybe no. All I know is that I miss feeling like I'm telling the honest-to-god truth about my own singular life when I write something down, be that writing personal or not, an epiphany or the grown-up version of a book report. And yet, I have been lazy. When I realized this finally, I got out of bed and now here we are, too late in more ways than just the time on my watch. It's time to write like a motherfucker.