I have had infinite notebooks, portfolios, apps, plans for organizing myself. I am forever trying to build a structure to contain my fractured, fly-away ideas, my pinball mind, my slippery, slip-away thoughts. If I don’t write it down, I will lose it. If I write it down, I will likely lose it anyway: a scrap of paper slipped into my pocket that comes through the wash faded and illegible; a miniature notebook for my back pocket to catch those glimpses, those tiny moments; an agenda for my desk where I can jot those things that I need to remember to get done before tomorrow; a list of writing ideas voice-texted into my phone. And then, of course, the challenge is to collect all of these words, to find them, remember what on earth I was talking about, to create something out of them.
Much of the time, things are written down and gone. As much as I try to instill systems and routines, I am too inconstant, trying one thing and moving onto another, creating the same level of chaos as already exists in my mind. It’s a wonder that I get out the door (most) mornings with two matching shoes. Sometimes, just the act of writing helps me remember, so that’s a good thing. And, there are also those moments when I find a notecard, a bit of marginalia, a note on my phone, with a phrase, and that’s all I need. The ideas unfurl from there.
Also, while I know there is magic in those moments, in those scraps of paper, I am also trying to lighten up a bit, to not put so much pressure on myself to capture every moment, but, rather, to experience them, to savor them, and then let them go. I have felt, for the longest time, a compulsion to try to hold onto, to remember all of the details through writing and pictures. And I am thinking about that a lot. Part of me really values what I have written. Another part of me considers burning it all (I am still thinking about Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Burning the New Year”), to let it go, to be lighter without it. I know I lean more toward the former than the latter. I am just thinking a lot about whether the value in what I write is about the writing itself or about what I actually create. I suppose it can be both. I am also mulling over a Rebecca Solnit essay about reading and writing that I read today that resonated a great deal: so much to consider there, too.
I am not going to start any bonfires yet.
Essay: Rebecca Solnit, “Flight” from The Faraway Nearby
Story: Meg Medina, “Sol Painting, Inc.,” Flying Lessons and Other Stories (edited by Ellen Oh)