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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The urge to write


It’s like a knot in your back: you twist and stretch and knead those parts that you can reach, but the ache persists.

It’s like feeling aimlessly hungry. “There’s nothing to eat,” you declare, staring at your full cupboards and stuffed refrigerator.

It’s a restlessness of the mind, an urge to create.

I was walking to work this morning through the streets of Oakland. The sky was whitish-gray, hovering just above the building tops. It smelled like rain. I instantly wanted to write about how fresh and thick that smell was, how it reminded me of damp leaves and the exhaust that comes out of a laundry room. I arrived at work and sat down at my computer, but now I cannot write.

The other day, I was at Vicky’s house with a whole host of friends. I did my part to socialize, but mostly I was watching everyone else interact. Amy would curl up to Dee or Ben the way a cat winds its way through your legs; she has that same soft, deliberate touch. Vicky competed at Trouble like an eight-year-old, convinced that ones are the hardest numbers to roll, punching the air with excitement whenever one of her red pegs sent someone “home.” Everyone smoked their cigarettes differently. Andy was the most professional-looking, jutting out his lower lip so that the smoke streamed up in a vertical column beside his head and made a sort of “thought halo” above him. Brooke would turn her head to exhale, pursing her lips to that side so that the smoke ended up nearly behind her. Ben blew his smoke out sloppily, engulfing his conversation partner in a big amorphous cloud. I wanted to write about all of these observations, to link them together and imbue them with meaning. But by the time I arrived home, my purpose was gone. All I had were a lot of mental snapshots and a dull pencil.

I have so much to write about and yet so little to say.

1 comment:

Julie said...

I love this piece of yours. I'll have to send you a book I just finished, written by Julia Alvarez. It's called "Something to Declare" and is a bunch of short essays, some of which are about her work as a professional writer. I think you'd love the whole thing. I couldn't put it down. I love knowing what people think and how they think it.