I’ve been given an assignment. It’s none of your business who gave it to me (my therapist).
We (she) discovered an important factor in the mystery of why I’m not writing. I thought it was just pure fear. I thought it was because I was afraid to visit that part of me because it’s easier to just go on about my life as if I never was a writer. Were a writer? (See? I can’t write!) I thought it would just be easier to push down the creative part of me and move on. But here’s the part I was missing: I equate being creative with being a part of the entertainment industry. I was shocked to discover that I was doing this.
Every time she asked me about my writing I would reply with some answer about whether or not it would be marketable, or if would make me money, or if it would get me on TV again. I guess I didn’t really see the problem. I mean, what IS the point of being creative if it’s not going to make you rich and famous?
DUH!! Really??? The point of being creative is (are you ready for this?) BEING CREATIVE!! When I was 16, 17, 18 and on, I would drive to a restaurant and sit for hours, picking at my food and vigorously writing in my notebook. I’d write sketches and monologues and thoughts and poems. And yes, a lot of it did end up on stage. But I wasn’t writing for that PURPOSE. I was writing because I had to, because it was inside of me, because it was who I was.
But then I think my writing just became a means to an end. I wrote to be in the sketch show that lead to me booking Mad TV. Then I wrote to try to get on the episodes. Then I wrote to see if I had a marketable story to tell (I couldn’t find one). Then I became a mom. And by that point, Russ had already been asking me FOR YEARS, when I would start to write again… SO I DID NOT STOP BECAUSE I BECAME A MOM. I stopped long before that.
Being a mom did complicate the issue, of course. I mean for the first time in my life I was channeling my creativity elsewhere. I was thinking less about what would be funny on stage or on TV and more about what would make a two-year-old laugh, or what a three-year-old would find DELECTABLE for dinner, or what game could keep my four-year-old and I occupied for a while. And the more I thought about that stuff, the less I thought about the part of me that used to pour out words just because they were inside me.
So, my assignment is to sit here in this coffee house, just five minutes from home, and to ignore the carpet that needs to be vacuumed, leave the dishes in the sink, and write. I’m supposed to write anything I want that DOESN’T have to do with “The Industry”. This is my warm-up day. I can write words on a page, like they’re scales on a sheet of music. Or write a series of words describing how I feel about my life or my career. I can write anything as long as it’s not with a mind toward seeing it performed or posted or printed anywhere.
It’s not gonna be fun or easy. That’s the point. And I have to do it at LEAST three times before I give up. It has to be for no one else but me.
And yes, I realize I am writing right now. And I realize you are reading this. But this is not the stuff that scares me. This is the stuff that satisfies the part in me that I try to push down. This writing is just enough to make me feel like I haven’t totally forgotten, but not enough to make me feel threatened or scared. And this writing, although immensely important to me, barely scratches the surface of what I have to say, deep down inside, somewhere I haven’t visited in nearly a decade.
I’m going to go do scales now. Cover me.