How to Write (the Inconvenient Way)

by Olivia Weaver (’16)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

Picture 33

There is no way to write. It happens. Usually, at the most inconvenient of times. Perhaps you are listening to your classmates do speed-reads as you prepare for your show that’s on tomorrow and some hidden dam breaks inside of your head and the words are flowing. You’d like to go and get your writer’s journal, but you’re on next to stage and cue and you have to swallow down all the inspiration and wonder. Words wait for no man.

This is usually how I write. Something happens, maybe someone was particularly witty or I saw something touching, and lines form in my head. They jostle around and mix and swirl, and I do my best to remember them and write them down when I get the chance. I often forget them.

If I know I have a writing assignment due very soon, I read something, or take a walk, or listen to music. I have authors I know will quicken my brain, and there’s a ridiculously large park near my home that I spend a lot of time in. My muse is sought out, poked, prodded, and otherwise bothered until it grudgingly allows me something that might be acceptable. This is how the worst of my poetry is created.

On the rare and delightfully frustrating occasions in which the Muse is ready to work and I am not preoccupied with anything altogether urgent, I find that my hand will not write down anything fast enough. Even now, I am having difficulty putting feelings down on keyboard. But this is also probably because something in my room is on fire and it’s very distracting.

What I’d like to do about writing is simply do it more. I don’t believe that I write enough. I used to feel awfully guilty about this, but I’ve come to be a professional at making excuses and making myself feel better. Sometime I write on the bus; it’s very charming. People think I’m strange or artsy. It’s really just because I haven’t got time anywhere else.

Well, of course I have time, but nobody has time for having time anymore. Why would I write when I could take a shower? I need to sleep, and eat and finish my homework, and take the trash out and also call whatsherface about that thing that happened on Friday. And Christ, I’m not going to be a stereotypical writer and not go out with friends, because we’re going to have a Star Wars marathon and I’ve never seen all the movies completely and I know I never will if I don’t get it done soon.

I should also probably sand my bookshelf and paint it, because at the moment it’s the only piece of furniture in my room that isn’t a dark color. Except for that dresser-thing, but that’s going out as soon as I transfer everything from the top of it to that new desk I got, which has a really scratched up surface but that’s alright because it was free, I think.

Not to mention, tomorrow is Monday and I haven’t picked an outfit. I’d probably end up wearing all black because that’s what I have the most of, but I haven’t done laundry in way too long. Which reminds me…

You probably get the picture. I have a distractable nature, especially when I’m under pressure. It’s a gift, I’d like think. I never stay down for very long.

Something else I’d like to do about my writing? Besides more of it? Well, I certainly wish it was better, but that would require something undiscovered. I’ve certainly come a long way from when I first applied to the Creative Writing program here. I wrote poems that rhymed and my short stories were meandering and plot less. I believed that poetry could just be a jumble of words that sounded cool that people didn’t use very often and brought together and image. I didn’t really attribute writing to producing physical reactions, or emotional, or mental, for that matter. I was blissfully insensitive. I thought I knew what I was doing.

I know now that writing is all about recognition. It’s about someone explaining your feeling to you better than you ever could. It’s pulling something out of you didn’t know was there. As a writer I’m a magician. As an eight grader starting off I was the kind of fool who got his magic kit mail order, waving his plastic baton with a towel tied over his shoulders like a cape.

I still don’t think I have any idea what I’m doing. But that’s better, I think, than wrongly thinking I’m doing it right.

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