Uneasy Writer – My Writing Life
When the young oriole landed, she went right for the jelly confident in the moment. Then, something changed. She changed position, looked around, and waited. I looked at her, wondering what made her so uneasy.
A few moments later, she left without returning to the jelly she’d enjoyed with wild abandon when she arrived.
She wasn’t gone from view yet when my thoughts turned to writing. The uneasy kind where after diving into the story, something causes me to stop, look, and listen. My jaws tighten, and I’m sure something is wrong with the words. Or the story itself. And most certainly with the writer. That’s when my shoulders join my jaws.
Sitting there, surrounded by the beauty of the wildflower gardens, my stomach clenched, and I had a physical trio of tension.
As my unease grew, I decided to walk and talk to God. Even though I like the story I’m writing, I asked, “Lord – can I fly away from this?” Instead of a wave of peace flooding my soul, the stress increased.
The breeze carried the scent of the wildflowers to me, and I inhaled. I scolded myself for standing still but told the persistent urge to back off.
Air that beautiful should be enjoyed.
Surrounded by the flutter of butterflies and vibrant blossoms, with the sun heating my skin, I continued to wait. I worried momentarily about the sun burning my scalp then remembered I was wearing a baseball cap. I smiled when I also remembered I was wearing it backward like a wild woman in the hood.
I checked my phone for the time, assuming I was late getting back inside to fold a load of laundry or something equally important that would keep me away from the story. That excuse didn’t fly – I’d given myself an hour to be out there and had spent twenty minutes of my sixty.
Not far away was a shady spot, and I headed in that direction. That’s when the horseflies found me. For some reason, they are drawn to me in swarms. They liked my blood before cancer and treatment, and they love it even more now. Thankfully, I had my trusty bottle of all-natural bug spray along. After covering myself and the air around me generously, they left, and I went back to pondering my unease and the fact that it increased in a big way when I thought about flying away from the story. Book three in a series I started dreaming about writing many years ago—a character who, although unlikeable, is dearly loved by me.
I stopped my journey around the wildflower fields and asked myself, “What is up with you?”
That’s when the answer hit me. I’m about 1/3 of the way through the writing of the raw draft. It will happen again when I’ve edited the book the third time. It’s the thing that happens every time.
In my mind, I saw a gleaming blue-black dragon, laying in a barren wasteland with its iridescent and scaled tail curled around itself, a self-satisfied sneer on its face. A laugh rumbles out of its long snout that shakes the ground I write on. Its breath is hot and stinks like swamp gas.
The devil, you ask? No. Just fraidy cat me and my big imagination. The peculiar thing is that he is a cartoon. Fake but not funny. All fluff and no flame.
I checked my watch again. My sixty minutes were almost up. It was time to feed Sophie and Tucker, fold that load of laundry, and get back to the story. To dive in with wild abandon.
On the way, I thought about the young oriole again. She was likely driven away from the jelly by a life-threatening danger. In my case, the only threat I faced was myself.
That’s when I saw myself in the window of the back door in my backward hat and laughed from my belly. At that moment, the unease flew away at least for a while. I talked to the dogs while I folded towels, drank some coffee while they settled in for a nap, and pondered the last two chapters I’d written. This is my gentle way of dipping my toes back into the story.
This uneasy feeling will return in thirds and threes as part of my process – one I guess I prefer not to remember until it hits catching me off guard and filling my internal spaces with its inferno of chaos.
I’m praying that next time I let it belch smoke at me, I’ll remember the beautiful young oriole, the reflection of me in my backward hat, and the wonderful way it feels to step back into the story I love.
Until Next Time,