I have spent most of my life not paying attention to the world at large. This worked for me. Whatever happened, if it was bad enough, or important enough, I’d find out about it. Whatever knowledge I needed for my writing came to me. It was, I see now, a life of faith, a life in which my mind was kept clear so that I could focus on a story.
Besides writing and reading, there were a few other things I loved. I loved cooking and nesting. The domestic arts, and life at home were always a big comfort to me. I actually loved cleaning my house, but then I started cleaning other people’s houses for a living, and the desire to get out the vacuum cleaner on a weekend, or to kneel on the bathroom floor to wash the ring out of the tub left me. Even though I still loved to have a clean house, even though I still recognized that a clean house delivered a level of calmness to me, I could no longer make myself perform the tasks that would result in that.
So it is sometimes with writing. Too many words in my life, be they my own, or from the million voices on the computer, can result in an inability to bring forth the desire to write. The juice is gone. I feel dried up and exhausted. The only thing I want is TV, preferably a sitcom that I am familiar with, that demands nothing of me.
But these days a published author does not have the luxury I had in the early days, the luxury of completely turning the world off, the luxury of living reclusively and in faith. Yet that is what’s required to keep on writing, to keep on being creative, to bring forth the tides of imagination.
Tides is perhaps the right word here. There are, in a creative life, high tides and low tides. Low tides are natural. Low tides are rhythmic. Low tides are the time to go swimming. I am learning, finally, that when I feel like quitting writing it is a sure sign that I need to quit something, that I need to back off from the noise of the world, that I need to find a way to submerge in the salty waters and quiet the world.
This is not easily done. The publishing world, the commercial world assures us that if we back away for even a nanosecond we will be forgotten. In truth it doesn’t matter. If I can be forgotten that quickly, that easily, then I will be forgotten. But if I can keep on making art, I will at least be making art, doing the thing that I want to be known for in the first place. Because, let’s face it, I don’t want to be known for my brilliant tweets. I don’t want to be known for my Facebook posts. I don’t want to be known for this blog. I want to be known for my writing, and as a person who helped other people with their writing. And the only way I can be known for those things is to make friends with their source and learn to dance in both high tide and low tide.