I never really know what to do about writing. There were weeks this year when it felt like the light shone and the world just opened itself up to being written down. There were weeks when I thought, there aren’t enough minutes in the day for all the things I want to say, for the draft blog posts and the poems and the maybe someday play.
And then I hit the hard.
I hit the twenty-something ache, the weeks of working with tired eyes and outdated eyeshadow. The weeks of missed Skype dates with friends far away and picking at limp salads at lunch and worrying again about the same laundry lists of things, repeating conversations I’ve already had with myself too many times to count. I wore the clothes I love without loving my body in them. I put on the CD in the car called, “You are a Girl on Fire” but I was never listening. I heard people talk and laugh, and I talked and laughed, but I wasn’t really listening. I didn’t lean in towards their story, close my eyes over the wine and imagine all that they were saying behind what they were saying. I didn’t listen.
When you don’t listen, you can’t write.
You cannot tell us how the car sounds scrambling over the rocky leftover snow on a Tuesday morning when you are late. You cannot tell us how it feels to shrug on yet another cardigan because you’re yet again worried that you don’t know how to dress yourself and you’re close to being almost 23, for gosh sakes, and you still fight these old battles with your body and heart and mind.
You cannot tell the story of discovering there are at least five poems that you want to work on, how you realize it in a rush while checking your email in a crowded room at the National Press Club that one of the things that you want most is to work on those five poems.
You cannot put a pen to the page when you aren’t listening. Because writing is more about listening than it is about writing.
That’s why playwrights eavesdrop; so that they can capture the sound of characters in rush hour on the green line, or the silence that lingers when a couple stops arguing to order matching lattes in the hipster coffeeshop. That’s why poets talk about how birds holler through sycamores, or how love is shaped in clinking spoons nestled in their drawer next to the steak knives. That’s why all of us who blog, who scribble on napkins, who try to breathe life into syllables and consonants have our ears to the ground and the sky.
So it has been quiet, because in my haste and frustration, I stopped listening.
And in my haste, frustration, not-hearing, I realized how much I love to write. How not writing is an ache that fills me, seeps in the crevices of my Saturday nights and my Thursday afternoons.
And the ache is about love. And the ache is about calling.
And the ache says, light another candle along the road.
And the ache says, listen.