Philosophy of Writing – 22 – Drought

Posted on August 1, 2015 by


FROM THE LIGHT OF TWO MOONS  | archival pigment print | 2015 Christy Lee Rogers |

FROM THE LIGHT OF TWO MOONS | Christy Lee Rogers |archival pigment print | 2015 |

Constantly, like an event of weather or a movement of the stars, I will open a screen like this and tell myself that the blog hasn’t been written in for a long time and there’s no way to keep it alive, even though I love it, without posting. I can preen the links and pick the mistakes out of old posts like a bird but blogs aren’t feathers and I should write here more–but I’m not here, because I’m preoccupied with digging.

My biggest problem is that all of my wells seem to be shallow. I tapped one once that was deep — a novel — but even though there are a few that look promising, they’re difficult, and I keep opening new holes in the earth hoping for words that flow generously. I don’t know what the rain is, or where it’s from; it falls out of sight. I can’t collect it as it falls; I can only wait until it finds a way through the rock and shale to me. Other writers can pour out words; they catch the rain in buckets and hats; they complain that they can only write a book in a matter of months instead of weeks; my novel took me eight years.

I need more rain. Extracting ideas gives me migraine auras without headache. I’ve been clutching the side of my face for days now. Drought leads to a stunning lack of progress no matter which well I choose to draw from. The pain of extraction intensifies with the drought, but isn’t analogous. Being blocked is not a drought of words.

I draw this distinction because I have a friend who has no drought of words but who is blocked–she hates everything she writes and she has started avoiding the simple practice of sitting down to write. I am the opposite. I dig wells everywhere, but I hit solid rock after a few inches of mud.

Sometimes I’ll pause in the digging and look up, and I’ll see a well I abandoned overflowing with words, and I’ll work on it until it dries up again, which doesn’t ever take very long. I wonder if I’ll finish these or whether they’ll lie scattered across the landscape forever.

This drought can’t last; it can’t. I can’t bear the idea of writing one book every decade. I can’t possibly do the things I’d like to do with that kind of meagre practice.

I have to go take a couple of ibuprofen and get back to digging. See you later.