Write in 45 to 50 minute blocks, she said, I remind myself of the instructor’s words as I carefully watch the clock in the top right corner of my computer screen.
Seven minutes to go. Seven more minutes. Seven more long minutes to write a sentence. Or maybe a few words. Words I’ll probably go back and edit, maybe even delete. Maybe they’ll be astonishing, but not likely. I write them, the words.
I can hear the words now. Feel them. Again. A friend of mine is a visual artist who sees the world in images. I see the world in words.
It’s a weird writer thing. The words live in our bones and blood and bile and bottom layers of the oxygen in our lungs, the layer that only gets expelled when you fall on your back hard or you die.
When our words get used up on other things, and they always do - things that matter, like conversations between friends about when The Walking Dead returns or how her marriage is falling apart or I had no idea what love was until I loved a horse, we need to refill our words.
Our words get used up on things that don’t matter, too. Another one of those annoying truths of life. The conversations that go nowhere because someone wants you to be someone else other than you, and while you’re explaining why your soul is shaking her head, “No,” to their demands, they are talking…still talking…about why you need to be the person they want you to be.
Note to self: get better at not letting my words get used up on things that don’t matter.
Writers find places to refuel their words. It’s like alchemy, I think. Or sausage. The end product, the novel, the poem, the essay, the blog post - that we like. The process of gathering our words and letting them run amok into a final product? Trust me you do not want to see how it’s made.
An aside - that previous paragraph is why I will not read Go Set A Watchman. I don’t want anyone reading my first drafts, and I do not have the entitled right to read Harper Lee’s. Her final edit, To Kill A Mockingbird, is astonishing. If you want to read how that sausage was made, you get what you deserve if it grosses you out.
I have spent a week refueling my words. I had forgotten what some of the words sounded like, how they felt as they fell out through my fingers, and how much I missed them.
I notice the clock. I’m 12 minutes past my break time. I get up, stretch, and gather my laptop and my coffee. I walk and wander across campus until I find another old building with brilliant stained glass and huge tables that invite me to sit with their grand old space.
Me and all my words.