On Writing

Somewhere along the way I stopped writing.

Somewhere amidst the long journeys on the Underground, pressed into the tired, end-of-the-day bodies of others, careening through those darkened corridors, I stopped writing.

Somewhere in the rush of the 9 – 5 (or, as luck would have it, 10 – 6) that has so very utterly unexpectedly swiftly become my everyday, I stopped writing.

Somewhere amidst the rush to pack a lunch, brush hair, and teeth, to feed two plaintive cats, and make a bed, drink the oh-so-very-necessary cup of coffee and catch a train, I stopped writing.

Stopped. Writing.

This past weekend I cut four inches off my hair – in the hope that those four inches departed would afford me more time. Less soaping and rinsing and drying and plaiting in the morning, and more time to do what I love…to write. I rolled up my sleeves and knotted my newly short hair on top of my head and dragged my wooden drawers across the room – in their place, at the window, my bed. Somewhere deep down I think I hoped waking up next to the window, and falling asleep to the gentle lullaby of the rain, would give me something to write about – or, at least, some divine inspiration: a metaphor in the vein of life and rain, seasons and the passing of time.

I love waking up somewhere new. I always have. And I love waking up to the rain, to the heat of the radiator on the back of my neck and the purr of my little black cat at my side. So, in a way, I suppose – it worked. Here I am: writing.

But writing well? Not-so-much. So often I forget that writing well, writing what is honest and truthful and good, is practice – the pen is a knife, it must be sharpened. And the mind? A muscle, which must be flexed and exercised and toned.

I spend most of my days writing – writing about science and history and surrounded by words, sewing other people’s words into English and racking the archives of my mind for long-forgotten German vocabulary. I do like it. I do. There is a sense of achievement for a writer, walking head held high out of the building at day’s end, as the sun sets a wintry pink on the horizon, that today’s words were good. That today you held language in your hand and said yes.

But my own words? The words I am allowed to hold up and say yes! These are mine! These are my words, good and honest and true. I’m still working on those. Bear with me, won’t you? I’m still trying to figure out how to make eight hours in a office a good story. One day it’ll come. I promise.