Sunday, January 29, 2012

Drink and be Filled up

I've lived under a rather dense pile of heavy, air-tight dirt for the last seven days. It's the kind of dirt that clumps inside your mouth, presses on your shoulders, and inspires you to dive head first into second base, beating--of course--with the potential of rounding third and heading home.

Adolescent performers shuddered a bit as they trudged to the front of the room, breath all out of whack until they pulled it in, focused their energy and delivered magic from the tips of their toes and the ridges of their tongue. As a judge, I sat and listened to them. I watched their nervous antics, I witnessed transformations, I observed a few tragic collapses.

Words pelted my skin like rapid fire and inspiration bled like an open wound. I wanted so badly to soak it up, but in the end, time didn't allow for any sort of manifestation. Instead, I replayed poems in my mind, and I looked a few up on the computer. Then I gazed up at a clock that informed me it was time to get to work.

I wiped stainless faucets with rubbing alcohol, I scrubbed an already clean toilet and then I dusted books on my bookshelf. My fingers tingled a bit as I pressed them back and then forward, wiping away particles that clung to the bindings with determination. As my fingers pulled those particles away, they gloated a bit over their victory, over the moments they knew they'd one day get to press their pads on the pages and open worlds of magic.

Those books made me want to write. Those books made me want to create something that moved people as much as so many of those precious papers moved me. I wanted to pour, to explode, to wander, to dive back inside my ideas and press them into reality.

The clock told me it was time to do school work. And I walked to my bag and pulled out the materials.

Marlene, one of my team members, reserved Fresh Air recordings from the library and Stephen King was one of the interviewees. I plugged him into my laptop and listened. He read from On Writing in the interview. I wanted to read the story for myself and so I walked back to the shelves. Stephen King peered up at me from his rightful spot, nestled tightly between Maxine Hong Kingston and John Knowles.

I've had that book on my self for a few years, but I have only read the back. I meant to dive inside it--in fact, I have wanted to devour it since I knew it existed--but I let life get in the way. I let the dust grip it as tightly as I would have gripped it had I opened my fingers and freed the words.

I lost myself in the couch cushions as Stephen King wrenched open his skull, and sliced open his heart, telling me why he writes, how he writes, and why I need to get reacquainted with my computer. Suddenly, time didn't matter so much.

"Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. Some of this book--perhaps too much--has been about how I learned to do it. Much of it has been about how you can do it better. The rest of it--and perhaps the best of it--is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up" (King 269-270).

I will.