Endings and beginnings, part 1

Posted: August 2, 2009 in prison, general, story, writing
Tags: , ,

I’ve been silent here on the blog for several weeks now. Not good for consistent readership, I know. Perhaps not even good for continuity, maintaining that “dream” that Gardner says is so essential to a well-told story. Yet, the pause I’ve taken here, reflects a pause I’ve taken in my life in general. In the language of the hero’s journey, I suppose I’m back again at the Threshold—between what was my ordinary world and what will become my new world. Ordinary being graduate school and all that came with it. New world being life after graduation. Ordinary being the work I’ve been doing with the guys in the Twin Rivers Unit at Monroe. New being the discussions about shifting our program over to the Washington State Reformatory (a different holding unit at Monroe) beginning in September. Ordinary being the guys I’ve gotten to know at TRU. New being the guys I will get to know at WSR. Ordinary being having the excuse of “homework” to bail out on dinner parties I didn’t want to attend, weekend activities I didn’t want to participate in, etc. New being how to hold onto the space I created for my writing time without the respected excuse of it being school work. Ordinary being always having a looming deadline to force me to my desk. New being having the responsibility of imposing my own deadlines.

Two weeks ago today, I graduated. I haven’t written much, telling myself it is okay to take a small vacation. But while I haven’t been writing, life has been quickly filling the hours I once spent at my desk and just like that I find myself having promised too much time to things other than writing, and now I’m struggling to take them back—those precious hours. I’m getting “twitchy”, as a writer friend of mine would say. That terrible state for a writer, when you want to write, but don’t write and then suddenly find yourself yelling at the checkout girl at the store, at your boyfriend, your mother or some random news anchor on the television for no reason other than you’re not writing and it’s driving you crazy.

Perhaps that’s the thing about being at the Threshold—where you are one foot in what was the ordinary world and one foot in what will be the new world—it’s a little maddening. The old rules don’t apply and the new rules haven’t been set yet. The old schedule that once worked, doesn’t fit with the new life, but the new schedule hasn’t been created. So, it’s limbo. A writer’s purgatory. Without being too overdramatic, I hope, I am the guy who has just been released from prison, trying to make it through his first day on the outside.

I told myself I’d take until my birthday in early September before I worried about getting back on a writing schedule. I’m not sure I can hold out that long. Not because I’m anal, or hard on myself, or incapable of resting, but because I’m incapable of not being a writer. Two intense years of school have not set me up to take a break from the writing, they’ve set me up to write. So I must. This is the first significant piece of writing I’ve done since graduating, and already I feel better reading over these words, watching the white space on the page fill.

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