If I were a writer, what would I write about today?
The silence at the end of that question stretches long. I wrote some bullshit that I deleted about how I ask myself that, but the answer is always nothing. No. The truth is I haven’t bothered asking myself anything. And if I were to ask myself something, it shouldn’t be, “what would I write about,” but “am I a writer at all.”
I certainly don’t feel like one anymore. I did for a while, when I was writing every day. It didn’t matter that I have nothing to publish. I still felt connected to the words and the work. I had hoped that as summer ended, I’d find myself drawn back to both.
Writing isn’t the only thing I’ve been neglecting though. I had started exercising, taking morning walks at a local park. I needed movement and nature to ground myself in this world, even as depression sucked me farther from it. I used the summer’s heat as an excuse to stop walking, the depression as an excuse to stop writing. Despite that, I managed to keep living.
In July, I learned that an old friend was having gastric bypass surgery. For some reason, that prompted me to finally make some changes to my diet and start shedding some weight myself. I joined a weight-loss group on Facebook for support. That became my new obsession—another reason to stay too long online, reading about other people’s lives and struggles, ignoring my own. I started losing weight, then panicked. I wasn’t prepared for it to actually work! I didn’t know who I was without sugar, without whiskey. I didn’t belong outside the plus-size corner of the store. I stopped eating to lose and let my weight stabilize.
That’s where I am today. I have a list of things to start doing again: eat right, exercise, read books, write. All the things I thought I might do this summer, but didn’t. I’ve been online, checking Facebook and Twitter, watching what’s happening in the world. Wondering what it all means. Meanwhile, I’ve got a stack of unread books next to my chair just waiting for me to come back to this world. The immediate. The concrete. I feel like I’m flitting around the edges of life, lost in cyberspace. Can I find a way to ground again? Will writing help?
If I were a writer, what would I write about today? How would I say it? Do I still want to play with rhythm and length and form and rhyme? Would I rather chat like this? Pretend I’m talking to the friends I don’t have? Would you like to hear the story of my life? of my weight-loss journey? of my failures to make good decisions? Will the gods read these words and accept them as prayers from a lost soul? Will the Muses gather closer and whisper in my ear? Will someone, somewhere, read what I write and nod in agreement, forging an invisible link between us, a tiny spark of energy flowing into the vastness of space, making us both matter to each other, even though we never meet? Is that enough? Is it a start?