When I asked about her writing habits, Patricia Smith told me that she writes ten pages a day, no matter what. Rigoberto Gonzalez has talked about waking up at 4am so that he has time to write before his work day begins. And James Goodman, who I’m studying creative nonfiction with this semester, has said that he’s so terrified of not being able to write that he writes incessantly to ward off that fear.
I have to be honest. I’m not sure why I keep writing. Why do I continue to write these poems about a place that doesn’t exist and never will? Why do I continue to write personal essays about the things that happen between people in dark rooms? I don’t know the answers to those questions and perhaps, I don’t want to know.
All I can say is that this weekend, I worked (and worked and worked) on another poem. When I was tired of thinking about that poem, I took a break and worked on a personal essay. Somehow the poem and the essay spoke to each other in ways that only I could hear. Writing the essay motivated me to go back to writing the poem and vice versa.
By the end of the weekend, I had broken through the fear that has been at my heels for almost all of January, the fear that my writing was forgettable and a waste of time. This weekend was about writing my way towards a kind of hope, a kind of confidence.
It takes a kind of courage to look at a blank sheet of paper and see what isn’t there yet.