I'm meant to be creating today, but the words won't come. Instead, I lie under blankets on C's bed while he works in the corner under one of those desk-lamps with the flexible neck. I link from blog to blog, looking for new words to love. I like the beautiful ones best, the ones that string sentences together like pearls. I want to wear them on the shelves of my collarbones, the two moons of my breasts.
I have books, plural, in progress. Pages and pages of words I have coaxed and clipped and pruned into blooming. Like orchids, they are difficult to grow, even harder to keep alive. But I try. I try. Meanwhile the years keep passing and there are no spines on the bookshelf lettered with my name.
I dream of a neat little cottage in the future. A well-kept garden with radishes and beets. In it, a room full of pretty things - cushions, flowers, sun-filled lace - where I sit to write (and write, and write). All the words I've collected over the years, all the words I've dreamed, free to spill on to page after page, unkilled by hours in strip-lit offices and steamy canteens, unkilled by mindless hours in front of flickering TV screens.
I think I've found a way to pick that future's lock. A way to open the door to that room where I can sit and write the things that make my heart fill and swell. I must write, I decided, something fast, and furious. Not the book I want to write, not yet; not the poetry, not the sentences that sweeten into something golden and fine. I must write something quick and cheap, something that will sell, so I can leave the creativity-killing nine-to-five behind. Goodbye buses, and vending machines; goodbye logins that change every thirty days, and mechanical window-blinds; goodbye, air conditioning that is always too high or too low, so we roast like chickens on a spit in Winter, and shiver till our teeth rattle in the Summer.
It sounded easy, and it is, for the most part, it is. The words come freely when I'm not being selective, when I'm not choosing based on how beautiful something sounds, or if it holds truth. This is a different kind of writing than I have ever done, all cliffhangers and wordcounts, and the battle is being won. Even if the book feels a little shabby, a little thin. It's a bit like dressing in grubby, secondhand tweeds after years in the fanciest and riches of silks.
To write fluff now so I can write gold later...does that make sense? I think it does, but I can't help feeling oily of hand, sometimes, shifty of eye. I go back and forth: It is necessary; a stepping stone for the future. / No, it is a waste, and mercenary.
I know what I want to write. I want to write about things that live beneath the sea, mermaids with silver tails like apostrophes, selkies that peel out of themselves, heel to skull in pale curls, under full, complicit moons. I want to write about love, and death, and every hidden fathom of the human heart. I want to write about light: the way it moves on water, like a scattering of sequins, and the way it falls through lace curtains to trace florals on skin. I want to write about a girl saying yes for the first time, about the boy she lets touch her with trembling hands.
I want to write and write of all these things... but instead I am writing sloppy mass-market fiction with haste. This is the risk: if it works, if it sells, it will all have been worth it. I will sit in my lovely rooms, and drink lemon tea, and write all of the things that live in my heart for the rest of my days. If it doesn't, then it will all have been a waste. But what will I have wasted, really? Only, I suppose, a handful of weeks. Not even a full turn around the sun.
I've never tried writing like this before. Forging words from speed and fire, lines from time and heat. There's that, at the very least, to gain. The chance I've never taken. The dice I've yet to cup in a hand and cast. The newness of the experience for its own sweet sake. Maybe it's worth persisting for that alone. That, and the hope it can't help but light in me, bright as a newly-minted coin of moon.