Alan wrote the most honest examination of what it is to feel the well run dry. Of how it is to be a writer with no words. A raw questioning of how that happens and why and what can be done about it. He said it perfectly. I don't need to re-say it here.
But the thing that happened when I read it is inspiration. It stirred up words in me that nodded and raged and trembled and sang in agreement. He prompted me to write.
This is what I wrote:
And when she struggled it was like a great wound tearing open. It seemed her heart would ooze out and cease beating and still she would have no words. Her life’s blood pooling around her, shapeless, nameless, a void carrying forth all that she was but could no longer describe.
And when the struggle ceased it was like flight. Fingers dancing like stones skimming glass pools, effortless, rippling words outward endlessly one upon the other. All the golden avalanche of creation tumbling forth and rolling across the page unchecked.
Sometimes there were words for how it was. Sometimes it just was.
Sometimes she sat for days staring at the screen, fingers dead weight on the keys. Nothing coming full upon the heels of nothing. The cursor mocking, infuriating, in the vast blank page into which she tumbled... just fell, not like anything or reminiscent of something because in that moment it was just her and the page and nothing else. It wasn’t like anything. It was just death. The death of self.
In those days when the hours unfurled limply like sails without wind, she understood what the slowest drowning would be. If millimeter by millimeter water crept up and slid down her throat a single drop at a time. Until all the world was blue and cold and wet and gone.
It’s a strange thing to write.
To count oneself a writer.
It isn’t about books on a shelf, not in the truth of it. It’s in every hour spent staring, reaching deep and deeper inside for just one sentence, just a single word, and then putting it on the page. It’s in the hours that follow where the tumble down the rabbit-hole is so complete that time ceases to exist until there is emergence again, a resurfacing, climbing back up into daylight with strings of sentences dragged unwilling behind.
The slowest drowning. The spiraling dance into death and back again.
But when it works... it’s utterly divine.
Perhaps, if you are not a writer, you'll roll your eyes and wonder aloud why all the writers seem to be endlessly fixated on writing about not writing. On putting words to how difficult words can sometimes be to come by. "What drivel is this?" you may want to know. And you can't be faulted for wondering. But to you I say this: any creative passion that fuels you also drains you by degrees. The fire that burns hottest and dances highest also consumes the wood that birthed it. Nothing comes from nothing. And even words, so seemingly abundant, must be forged somewhere and that forging is sometimes easy and sometimes a chore. So we writers write about that because acknowledging the struggle puts words to it, you see. Voicing it gives us something to write. And from that writing, even about something as seemingly circular in purpose as writing about having nothing to say, inspiration can be born. Alan inspired me. And in turn, maybe I can inspire him. Or Jennifer. Or any one of you to write or paint or sew or sing or be sparked in your own way... we each help refuel each other.
Don't you see? Sometimes shouting out to the world that you're out of words is a way of getting some given back to you.
Thank you, Alan.
- Corinne Simpson