You rummage through the storage space in your cranium, looking for some pertinent truth. You can’t really think of anything to write about. Sure, you have feelings, problems, but none of them feel distinct enough to discuss. None of the compulsions are clear enough to act on. You think of yourself as a writer. You’re supposed to have stuff to talk about. You feel a bit impotent.
And then, one day, you find a spark. Finally.
It could be anything. The sullen glance from a grubby toddler in the food court of the mall. An rerun of 16 Candles. The brush of a stranger’s fingers against your bare arm. An advertisement in the newspaper. A splotch of sunlight on a car window. Whatever it is, it left an itch.
You feel that the Elusive Spirit of Creativity has left you with something, a tightly-curled seed. It throbs in the back of your head, a complicated compulsion needing to be expressed. It can’t just be laid out and pried open. No no no. The subtleties, the nuances of the precious idea will be lost forever. You need to cultivate it, give it time to grow.
So you plant it in rich black soil of paragraphs. You labor with patience, even though you still aren’t sure where you are going. Come out, beautiful thought! You need to be heard. Please allow me to arrange my humble letters to contain you. You make sentences, choose words, and realize they don’t fit the invisible contours of the thought within you. It’s more than words, this thought, and you have to chip away at the rough edges, add more. It’s like Michelangelo cutting away only the marble that isn’t the angel. You have so many words, you just need to lay them out and then prune the unnecessary ones until it’s perfect.
Sometimes the writing feels like you are playing Ouija with your own special ghost. Your hands float between the keys. You form words compelled by a force you don’t understand. Writing is generative, and sometimes new ideas spring from old. You are determined to make it, to give voice to your idea. You isolate yourself from the outside world, insulating yourself with scattered papers and long withdrawn periods and increasingly neglected hygiene. If you are able to birth this concept into the world, it will have been worth the now very palpable throb of loneliness in you.
You will never quite say what you meant to, although you may come close. The words themselves reshaped your ideas even as you typed them out, and now you aren’t sure exactly what your thought was in the first place. The thought is writhing within you, changing constantly. Some subtle witchery of your subconscious occurred between conception and completion. What you do have is a collection of words you don’t quite recognize as your own.
Still, it’s done, you guess. You send your writing out into the world and are surprised at what people see in it. You can’t be too concerned, though, because the questions raised while you wrote the last piece are now beating their wings against the inside of your head. It’s time to go back to the keyboard and let them out.