My area of the country has been experiencing the most depressing heat wave and drought. And the hot dry weather has been affecting my creativity. I feel tired and lethargic and uninspired. Drought or no, this happens to every writer, I know. But I can’t afford to let myself settle into writing inactivity. “Drought begets drought,” the local meteorologist said during a broadcast this week. This old adage is true for writing droughts, as well. Once a writing drought begins, the writer moves farther and farther away from his or her creative self. The words dry up like the crunchy petunias in the neglected pot outside my back door.
And I can’t let that happen.
So, I write. I journal every morning on my train ride into Chicago–at least one page. It isn’t always pretty writing. Some mornings I write the most inane drivel: what I watched on television the night before, how grumpy all of the other commuters are, how hot and horrible the weather is, etc. Some mornings each word is sooooo painful. I just can’t get anything flowing. Then I write about not being able to write and how my creative soul is empty and how I’m going to expire here with all the other mindless herd animals–“mooing” my way back and forth to my office every day.
Stop! Enough of that kind of thinking.
Even in this drought, there are some mornings–some bright shining dawns–when I forget the heat and the dead plants and the grumbling of others and the words begin to flow. Some small thing wakes my creative self–that bird hopping on the metal train rails watching me with a twinkle in his knowing eye or that boy with his cap on sideways reading Salinger as he waits for the train or the streaks of red-orange morning light emerging between the elusive clouds over Lake Michigan. Before I know it, the page is filled with funny creative writing and my morning train ride has barely begun. I put my journal away and take out my notebook and work on my novel. The words and ideas push against each other to emerge on the page. The story unfolds, the mystery reveals itself, the characters clamor for recognition. Me, no me, no ME!!
Tap! Tap! Tap! “Ticket please,” the grumpy conductor says.
“So sorry,” I answer, scrambling to pull it out. I’d forgotten I was on the train, you see. I was in the midst of another place, another time, another story. I was writing.