(I wrote what’s below just hours before all of the incredible comments you all left for me yesterday. I will take that great advice and move forward with new inspiration and faith in the process. Thank you to my brilliant, caring, dear, dear readers!)
Getting started is the hardest part—making myself do the work.
I wonder how other people motivate themselves to write, tolerate sitting quietly and tending to the text. It exhausts me. I feel swallowed by the enormity of the task, dwarfed by it.
Clearly the key to writing is, as you might have guessed, writing. But for whatever reason it’s difficult to wrap my brain around that obvious reality.
Perhaps, this is because right now I don’t want to write. I want the writing to happen without my being involved. I want the text to write itself. And for whatever reason “writing” refuses to comply with my wishes. Bloody stubborn thing that writing is!
However, sitting back, watching and waiting won’t get this memoir written. And I can’t tell you how many excuses I’m able to come up with for why I can’t do it—why I need to wait, reevaluate, regroup, and reconsider.
I think this might be about wanting to do it perfectly. But, I remind myself, if I have to do it perfectly or not at all, then I will, in fact, not do it. It seems obvious that perfection is impossible, but, good God, I long for that holy grail of rightness and wisdom!
I’ve always told my students that they have to be willing to write their way through the shit to get to the good stuff, that they have to risk writing crap. It’s part of the process, the part that fertilizes what comes later.
I guess, in this regard, I’m my writerly self’s own worst enemy.
I also complain that I can’t write because I can’t recall so much of what’s happened. Here I have to tell myself, that my struggle to remember much of my own past need not preclude autobiographical writing—that I could, ironically, write a memoir about forgetting—that I could write a memoir not just about what I remember, but could research and then write about what I’ve forgotten.
That I could write a memoir that is largely about the nature of memory itself—the underside of which is defined by an amnesia, of sorts.
I pray this blog can be an avenue into that foreign and forgotten space, that as I write about our living abroad, first in Vietnam, then in Haiti, and God only knows where next, that as I tell our tale of travel and tea in new places, this other story will unfold, unwrap itself in words and pictures.