This spring, I took my longest writing hiatus since leaving my MFA program. If I’m completely honest, I had stopped writing long before that. “Actual” writing had morphed into semi-nonsensical mini drabbles in my phone’s notes app or half-cooked upstart blogs or semi-fleshed ideas for other books and pieces when inspiration briefly poked its head out of the gopher hole. If words decided to show the fuck up, I couldn’t do much with them. Couldn’t place them in the right boxes, incapable of synthesizing them into process, into action. Most importantly, nothing “real” developed in the stagnated novel I’ve puttered around for years–just ephemeral and farty go-nowhere to nothing mind butterflies (trademark pending).
Unlike prior hiatuses, this spring felt intentional somehow–like I had purposefully put my nothing money to my empty mouth. The difference came through the wide berth I had placed between myself and words, despite being in the business of it for work. Hell, I pretty much stopped reading novels for the first time in my life. (Dafuq?) Sure, the odd piece of fanfic would strike my fancy. (Above all, I find the Star Wars Rey/Kylo Ren ship sailing the Tumblr seas Twilight-levels of problematic, but somehow, the high school emo kid in me with skater carpenter jeans, ironic tees, and a love of nu-metal Incubus is rather tickled.) But not much beyond that. I revealed in Netflix. Shook a leg for Hulu. Discovered Steven Universe, and I’m not mad about that at all, actually. I hadn’t even done a great job of escaping words. Not really. Just buried mine under the avalanche of helping others advance their work instead of my own.
The impasse between myself and words felt cellular in miles. I almost think of Marvel’s latest, Antman and the Wasp, as the two lovers shrink down into atoms and learn to dissipate into the Quantum realm, the nothing in between everything. There, they truly are nothing to every person they matter to–all that, with the threat of never leaving that in-between space; they give into their devolution willfully, to see themselves trapped inside a sunken place of their own choosing. Potentially, without a lifeline back home.
A few weeks ago, my friend Stephanie and I had a rather adulting taco lunch with my friend Patrice, and Steph, once again, reassured me that not writing, or even struggling in my five years post-MFA, were all apart of the normal, nay, accepted bullshit of writing—the effective trajectory of the second book slump. “It’s all okay,” she told me. “Better even. You probably have more to say.”
It’s hard for me to grapple with the idea of that break, that distance–feeling accepting of it or daring to call it earned. I think about my last year, about how I’ve recently come to a “sort of” terms with uneven bones that I can’t change and thin spine discs supporting my mama-given ass that just won’t quit. These are my depression discs, I’ll tell my kids. Always on the mend. But I think I have to believe that I am more than the sum of damaged parts. More than that, to quote the effervescent Pose (a show that rocked my vacation this week, lordy LAWD), I have to believe that I choose to make myself. I can make myself into a person who lives to support the writing, despite everything else. Afterall, everything else is just farts and giggles. Gravy, but not quite Spam. Never, ever, potted meat.
I can engage this writing relapse, I think, because I already am.
I’ve probably written more in the last month that I’ve had in all of 2017. Not gonna lie–it’s a high that I’d like to replicate and put in one of those baby bongs I had in high school, the not-at ALL stealthy pieces I kept in my parent’s garage. (That youthy paraphernalia, long gone, will be denied if ever asked about much like the 45’s current Cheeto Regime does with facts, empathy, and logic.) Having something to say that, more often than not, doesn’t suck out the gate (been working on those affirmations like a BOSS) makes me want to jump kick–almost as if my chiropractor hasn’t banned me from doing anything of that sort for the rest of my half-life.
These days, I’m officially accepting of this progressive phrase: Flo Davies Doesn’t Have to Write.
But sometimes, she does.