Lately I’ve been consumed by the growing realization that the written word and I haven’t exactly been on speaking terms for some time now. I’m not sure when or how it started, but my creative impulse feels like its shrunk down to the almost inaudible heartbeat of the near dead. I have at least three books waiting unfinished on my Nook, dutifully marking the spot where my attention wandered in a heart-breaking display of possibly misplaced loyalty. And the most frightening part of all of this is how relatively unphased I am by all of it.
It’s not that I find no joy in creative endeavors of any kind. If anything, I feel like my consumption of movies, music and television has gone up in both quantity and quality. But that rush of imagination that would have me tapping at the keys or turning the (virtual) pages until I lost track of time? Gone. Well, not entirely. The ideas come, the intrigue at a good back cover blurb is still there. But something happens between inspiration and execution. It’s funny; physically, I’m probably in the healthiest shape I’ve been in nearly two decades, but mentally, I feel like I’m gorging on county fair food..
I won’t deny it’s been a taxing summer as far as work goes. Various misadventures beyond my control or influence caused no end of headaches, to the point where using my brain for anything beyond mindless web browsing became too daunting to think about. But books and writing used to be an escape from that, a way to use my brain for something beyond purchase orders and trouble tickets. Why isn’t that happening now? What’s missing?
The answer probably rests on the same path as the one that’s led to my improving physical condition: sheer dogged determination and getting out there even when it’s the last thing I want to do. In the midst of a three-day holiday weekend, I dragged myself out and back for ten-mile walks the past two mornings when I could have easily lazed on the couch catching up on Justified. When I started all this, doing something like that seemed impossible. But I made myself get out there every day until it became habit. Maybe my mind needs a similar forced march. Maybe it needs to be taken kicking and screaming to the place it needs to be. Until that too becomes habit.
Right now, that feels as daunting a prospect as those walks did three months ago. But at least in this case, I have proof I used to be able to do it. The trick is going to be finding that swing again. And the only way that’s going to happen is to get in the batting cage. Because nothing’s going to get better sitting in the stands watching it all go by.