I sit here late at night, a glass of wine and a flickering candle by my side. The room is pitch black other than the light from my laptop screen and the orange glow from the fire in the wood stove. A blanket of fresh white snow covers the ground outside, the remnants of yesterday evening’s snowfall, the first of many as we head into the chilling months of a long Michigan winter. I sit here quietly, alternating between tapping on my keyboard, and admiring the silence and the peacefulness and the crackling of burning wood. The warmth of the fire engulfs me and the desire to wrap up in the thick blankets of my bed is overwhelming. Its moments like this that make me feel content, as if there is a truer and more existential existence than the chaotic lifestyles we have all accepted as normal.
I sit here tonight trying to write, but I have nothing to write about. I try to be funny, but nothing makes me laugh. I try to be poetic but the words are not rhyming. I try to write anything, but the proverbial well is empty. I crank the bucket all the way down, inch by creaky inch, and at the very bottom, the bucket hits the dry ground. But why is it empty? Isn’t this when writing should be spectacular, in these moments when all of the situational stimuli are in perfect harmony? This is my romantic vision of “the writing life. ” Shouldn’t the words be flowing like an open tap?
But what is “the writing life” when you are only a blogger? Many of you have written before about that moment when you were finally able to call yourself a “writer.” I have not reached that point and I’m not sure I ever will. I’m not really even sure what that means, to call oneself a writer. Sure, I sit here in my idyllic environment with my crackling fire and I tap keys on a keyboard… and words appear… and it makes me happy… and it satisfies some internal creative drive that I have.
But am I a writer? I don’t know…
My grandmother, who has long since passed away, was an art teacher and a significant creative influence in my life. She was an amazing artist, able to sketch pencil drawings and paint beautiful watercolor paintings. She handcrafted porcelain dolls out of clay and hand cut and hand sewed the clothing they wore. She saw things differently than other people and she taught me how to see the world through the eyes of an artist, through the lenses of creativity. Long ago she gave me a copy of the classic Annie Dillard book “The Writing Life” which I have mentioned in previous posts.
For a short time during her later years, my grandmother wrote a column for a local newspaper. She wrote about personal topics and simple anecdotes about life. She wrote columns that readers connected with. I guess it was like blogging before the internet was around to allow us all to write our own personal blogs. But I’ve often wondered if she ever considered herself “a writer” and what that word meant to her…
…and if she ever cranked her bucket all the way down to the dry ground of an empty well.