They turned on the heat in my building this week. And today’s the first day this season that’s required a winter coat. “Every cold fall day that I get to stay inside a house,” J said, just now, “It feels like Thanksgiving.”
There are a lot of things that I easily forget. One of them is what it feels like to actually be writing. I’ve found again my original routine, the one that started me writing fiction in the first place. I journal with the intent of emptying my mind of preoccupations, of minor obsessions, of things that I’d spent more than an fleeting moment thinking about the day or so before.
Everything in the beginning is scattered, usually. It’s not unlike meditating with a dog in the room. At first Matisse just wants to play. He comes up to the cushion, sniffs my sweater, nudges my arm. He goes into the other room and brings back his chew toy (currently a plush raccoon) and drops it on the rug, his torso hugging the ground, his butt in the air, tail wagging furiously. Sometimes he’ll go back and forth between the rooms, stop and look out the window, sniff the ground for crumbs of food. Today he followed around a small white spider, deciding whether or not he should eat it. Ten minutes later, after all that’s out of his system, he settles on the sofa for the rest of the sitting. Ten minutes of journaling later, I’m ready to write.
J asked me, at lunch a couple days ago, what I loved about writing. The thing that came to mind – the day-to-day thing – was what it feels like after I’ve written. What it feels like to surprise myself, to see on the page thoughts and images that I didn’t know I had in me. Today I realized that it’s also the way that whatever I’m going through in my life outside of writing coincides with what the characters are going through. I had a day yesterday where pretty much all I did was read and sleep; this morning, that exhaustion seemed just the right sensation to draw on for the part of the story I was working on.
Although: I suspect it’s not so much a coincidence as a dialectic. The story and I effect each other. It’s that same journaling, but in a different, more indirect form. Instead of sitting across a table, having a conversation, it’s being near someone in the same room, both of you doing your own thing but in the same warm apartment. Listening to the same music, breathing the same air.