#3: self-portrait

Many writers say to write at the same time or the same place every day. They say to not leave that spot unless you wrote something. It doesn’t have to be something good, just write something. Get the creative juices flowing.

I’ve never done that. I’m not disciplined enough to find a spot or a time every day to write. I’ve been more or less a gypsy for the past ten years, so places always change. I like exploring. I’m sick of moving, but I love finding new towns, new people, new everything. I’ve lived in five different apartments in the past ten years, assuming I did my counting correctly. I’m lucky when I can find a pen to write with; lucky when I can find my favorite novel to re-read. 

I guess I was a “writer” when I was younger. I wrote lots of bad fiction, bad poetry, really bad fan-fiction, and some OK papers for school. I may have written some good poetry too. Creative writing wasn’t a focal point in my life, whether creative fiction or nonfiction (creative nonfiction was never a thing, in fact). I liked expressing myself on the page, hoping that no one would ever read it. I liked creating my own characters with their own drama. So what if one of my main characters may or may not have been very loosely based on a young Goliath from the Gargoyles cartoon? In retrospect, it couldn’t have been much worse than some of the young adult fiction that has been published. Perhaps I hoped that one day, novels would spring fully formed from my pen, like Athena from the head of Zeus. 

I don’t have a place where I can always sit and write. I don’t even keep desks between moves; far better to find a new one when I get there. I write where I am when the mood strikes. I’ve written on napkins, notebooks, end pages of novels, laptops, desktops, tablets, phones, and my own skin. I’ll write phrases here or there, snippets of poems that might weave into something larger sometime, or just float in the ether of my lyrical mind until it pops like a bubble and is gone forever. 

My writing is frequently lost, perhaps because I do not have a place where I can sit and write every day at the same time. I place pieces of it online: some inhabit my old Livejournal, some are lost to dead email addresses, some are buried under confusing file names in the cloud. Other writing is lost in long-gone memory cards, not as memorable as we always hoped they would be. Inaccessible hard drives, the power cables long since lost in some move or frenzy of spring cleaning, may hold a hidden gem of a once-imagined novel that I tried to write at age 12.  

Perhaps I need a place to sit and write at the same time every day. Maybe this will be a place where I can ponder the meaning of each sunrise or sunset. Maybe this will be a comfortable bay window with cushions and a lap desk where the sunshine hits the window just right and refracts sunshine rainbows into my living room and they dance across my fingers as I type. 

Until such a place is found, pieces of my writing are always there, somewhere, floating above my head in a halo of literary skills that I harnessed, forgot, used, and occasionally remember. 

After all, we always look up when we forget what we are going to say.

Written for ENGL 712 Spring/Summer, UMass Amherst, 2015

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