By the time this blog entry gets published it will be Wednesday which is smack-dab in the middle of a week where nothing, absolutely nothing is written in ink on my day planner but my house cleaner is coming on Friday. That’s a bad thing if you’re struggling to find a topic to write about. If rain hadn’t been in the forecast I would be painting my outdoor, metal chairs this week. Likewise, if I wasn’t on the Trump Diet---the one where you stress-eat everything that isn’t nailed to the wall---I’d put down the Tostitos Scoops and go to a Tia-Chi class at the senior center instead of sitting at my computer. I’ve only gone to a handful of those drop-in classes so it’s safe to say I’m not highly motivated to do slow-motion exercises. I did get outside to do some weeding and I filled up two 13 gallon trash bags and I still have enough weeds out there to fill another. They’re at the top of a slight hill and I should have pulled them on Monday in case my mountain goat skills have waned and I fall and can’t get back up. That way my lawn care guy would have found me the next morning. You’ve gotta plan ahead when you’re old and living alone.
At times like this, when there is nothing going on in my life to write about, I can’t help thinking of some advice that Stephen King gave to would-be writers: “You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair---the sense that you can never completely put on the page what's in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.”
I’m not fond of Stephen King’s horror genre books but he’s a productive (and many would say a brilliant) writer and two of my all-time favorite movies are adaptations of his stories---The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me. I am, however, a huge fan of his thoughts about writing. More than once when I’ve wanted to write about something that others might view as too personal or too controversial I think about that quoted paragraph above, screw up my courage and start writing while trying not to let the voice of a friend get into my head. She once told me my writing is too personal, that I reveal too much and it made her feel uncomfortable. That was back at the beginning of second year of my widowhood and her words are one reason why I tell so few people in my off-line life about my on-line presence. I did some soul searching after she told me those things and I decided that what she said doesn’t jive with anything I’ve ever read about writing and writers. “You must not come lightly to the blank page.” Opening up, being vulnerable in memoir-style writing goes together like salt and pepper shakers. And make no mistake about it, most non-commercial blogs are memoirs in a roundabout, coming-in-through-the-back-door way.
I suppose it’s normal for people in our circle of casual friends not to want to know about the inner workings of our minds, especially if our outside image doesn’t match what’s going on inside our heads. We humans are good actors. We can walk around looking and acting perfectly normal while we’re falling apart inside and we want to scream, “Make the world stop! I can’t take it anymore!” We can go here and there like good soldier ants on a mission but inside feel lost and alone. “The mind can calculate, but the spirit yearns, and the heart knows what the heart knows.” I have no idea in what context Stephen King wrote those words but it doesn’t matter. To me, it’s a statement that explains how our minds, spirits and hearts can be in three different places all at the same time.
I don’t do well with unscheduled time---too much of it makes me feel guilty about what I’m not doing and should be. “Purging here, purging there and purging everywhere,” says all widows I’ve even known. There’s always something productive I could be doing if I could get my head out of the clouds. I did pencil in a day to paint at my easel this week and that went well, but I could still hear my mom’s voice in my head saying, get your chores done before you go outside to play! And I answered back, didn’t you see me pencil in a day to pack up stuff to take to the auction house? But her voice came back even louder: Thinking about doing something isn’t the same thing as doing it! At least I’m not delusional enough to believe the voices in my head are Stephen King-like demons and they’re telling me to kill the neighbor’s Siamese cat. ©
“I'm one of those people who doesn't really know what he thinks until he writes it down.”
― Stephen King
This blog entry is an example of me writing with no idea what I’d end up saying.