And If That Mockingbird Don’t Sing

I used to be a writer. I carried a journal with me everywhere I went (still do), and I wrote in it every day (not so much). I taped stuff into my journal that inspired me, or illustrated something I’d said, and I kept the journals in order on my bookshelf. I filled four or five of them in two years, and they weren’t small. They were 250 page 8 1/2 x 11 hardbound journals that weighed five pounds apiece. Now, they sit on my shelf–out of order–and every once in a while I flip through them, searching for a clue to the source of the inspiration I once had.

I didn’t sleep much then, not that I sleep much now. I was perpetually heartbroken over someone–and though I have endured much more mature and crushing heartbreak since then, it’s somehow rendered me speechless rather than prolific. I was depressed most of the time, which hasn’t changed significantly, except that I’ve had something to be depressed about recently.

Perhaps the key is that I didn’t have a TV, or a real job.

Perhaps it’s that during a lot of that time, I was working in a bookstore, surrounded perpetually by words. They were all I thought about, day and night. I would write on my coffee breaks, my lunch breaks, on the bus home from work. I even wrote poems in my head while I was stocking shelves or punching the register. I carried a perpetual list of books I wanted to read in my back pocket every day.

Perhaps it’s that I was still young enough to think I had something worthwhile to say that hadn’t been said before, or better.

My ideas die like cut flowers now. They’re pretty and exciting for a moment, then they lose their lustre, then they wither, then they disappear. I write them all down, but when I go back and look at them, I wonder how I could have possibly thought I was being clever. Nearly all of them are abandoned within days. I still carry the journal because I’m waiting. I’m waiting for the midnight disease to come back, to take hold of me and make me write again. A lot. I’m waiting for the kind of lyrical passion that once had me functioning on two hours of sleep a night, my thumbs stained blue with ink. I suppose in the meantime, the journal is a good place to keep lists, addresses and card game scores.

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~ by saltgirlspeaks on 11 January, 2009.

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