Defining the “writer.”

Had an interesting discussion with someone recently (a fairly famous someone) about the concept of writing — the romanticized, “oh I want to be a writer!” people versus the actual writers. It wasn’t a pretentious conversation. You don’t call someone a doctor simply because they’re a WebMD enthusiast.

Long story short, writers have a refined craft. Aspiring writers may diagnose you with leprosy when you have dry skin.

 

Everything, nothing, somethings, sometimes, maybe so.

I hate cliche writing. Nothing pisses me off more than verbs and adjectives tumbling from sub par storylines– creaking floors, “perfect” this and that. That’s not writing. That’s spelling and sentences and coherence, but that’s not creative writing.

The busyness (or lack thereof) in my life always seems to vary between the cliche and the outrageous. For months and months — or even years — I’ll meander along, decisions presenting themselves as unavoidable. That’s just the natural next step, yes? Yes. The cliche of decisions — the creaking and the perfects of the world.

And then fortunately, thankfully, I’m sabotaged by a great story. The floor isn’t creaking — it’s groaning under the weight of a century of footsteps carelessly traversing its weathered slats. Nothing is perfect. It’s excellent or terrifying or satisfying or fading or childlike or any other myriad of possibilities in the well from which I can take a sip and digest slowly.

I’ve been living in a sweeping succession of these digestible moments lately. One magnificent mistake sent me spinning, and I’ve yet to recover. I never will. This is my new reality. But in this new reality I am braver, stronger, more willing to try…and more susceptible to the outrageous.

I feel myself being pulled toward the unavoidable, but it’s not cliche this go-around. I’m baffled and astounded and shocked and feeling the tug toward an exciting proposition, a pivot point in my life drawing me to something more.

I don’t care what that damn groundhog says. Spring is here.

It didn’t happen.

I had these lofty ideas about finally completing NaBloWriMo.

Then my friend died.

We weren’t great friends. I can’t even really say we were good ones. We were coworkers. Comrades. We didn’t throw back margaritas after work or flip our boss off behind her back (1. We work remotely; 2. Our boss is wonderful).

What we did do was share an understanding. Our Slack messages were always funny, our lighthearted complaints about work the silly back-and-forth banter that makes work, even in its most mundane moments, breathable.

Then, on an otherwise plain November morning, our boss called an emergency meeting. Through sorrowful tears that made her voice barely audible, I heard the words, “I have horrible news — Amanda died.”

Amanda? How? Why?

Amanda — the one who brought the laughter to our meetings. The one who made me feel welcome when I started at this job two years ago. The one with whom I had a special understanding, our child-free lifestyles making us more comparable than other teammates.

I didn’t get a goodbye. We didn’t get a goodbye. Life is cruel like that.

One day we were discussing repurping content and filling in for each other during upcoming vacations…the next minute I’m seeing pictures of her memorial service and taking over part of her line up.

For the last two months I have been writing in real journals, exploring my feelings in the primal, private way only pen and paper affords you. What I have discovered about myself — so far — is that my passion for life is starting to spill over.

Life is fast and short, and if you don’t inhale it now, you’ll lose it forever.

I get it.

I used to think you had to absorb the old pieces of yourself, chew them up, spit them out until they were no longer a part of you. Clean breaks, perfect lines. No baggage on the other end.

I was wrong.

Chew them up. Swallow them whole. Make them so intricately woven into your being that the work of art that is your collective experience is a garden of yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever.

An exercise in passion.

I am tired of thinking about you. Feeling about you. Of waking up in a cold sweat, broken because the dream wasn’t true. Broken because it all comes crashing back to me — the way you broke my heart and stole so many pieces of me.

Everyone says time is the great healer, but it is also the great reminder. This is the day we did this. This is the day we did that. The fucking calendar won’t let me escape you even when my mind begs.

I accept the mistake. I accept it repeatedly. I accept it and blame myself and tell myself I should have been better. And then I am angry, because your behavior has made me spiral into phases of self-loathing.

Who do you think you are? Who the fuck do you think you are?

The High.

It’s the hustle and bustle at the departures drop off point.

The moment I show my passport.

It’s the never-ending queue, the overpriced shops, and uncomfortable seat I curl into whilst waiting at the gate.

It’s handing my ticket to the check-in agent, the breeze I feel as I make my way down the long corridor, the sardine seating, and the click of the belt across my lap.

It is the high of travel I can never. get. enough. of.

I want my feet to wander across new and old ground, my eyes to marvel at a thousand cityscapes, and my heart to quicken — and stop — at a million rich sunsets.

My home is everywhere and nowhere at all.

I wander, I look, I live, I learn.

I travel for the moments, the memories, the high.

 

Downtime.

Life has been quiet lately. I seem to vary between work-walk-sleep. I feel a little bad that I haven’t devoted this month to tons of travel, but I’ve frankly needed the downtime, and considering what September will entail, I’m sure I’ll look back and be glad I spent my days walking the ways of a Mancunian.

I’m learning that not everything in life has the movie credits ending. You know — the awesome conclusion, fireworks, and complete closure. There’s not always a pretty little bow to seal things up. This is a hard lesson for my brain to learn. It wants the crumbs swept up or it goes into shock — rage, deny; deny, rage.

So I’ve used August as a time for reflection. I feel like Thoreau, observing the changing of the leaves from my humble tree-lined view. As if you could kill time without injuring eternity. I really need to get a tattoo for that. I guess the truth is I’m slowly emerging from my cocoon, realizing that humans carry scars long after the wounds are healed. And it’s true: a scar can last a lifetime. There’s plenty of religious rhetoric about that, but I’ve found it’s far easier to quote something than to actually understand the depth of a person’s plight and realize what they are like, what they have struggled with, and — why, perhaps — their pain cannot be sealed up as nicely as an outsider opinion would like it to be.

Funny enough, I think I’m becoming the person I always wanted to be. More thoughtful, more reflective, and yes, a little more jaded.

It’s a quiet, chilly night, and I’m thinking of things that no longer exist. I’m reflective and full of memories, embracing a handful of emotions society wants us to think should only be discussed in hushed whispers. I’m sad, and I am allowed to be.

“It’s okay to be sad sometimes.”

Truer words have never been spoken.