My dear, longtime friend (and ex CD) Joni, and I had an evocative exchange the other day. About writing. I felt it had a place here—especially given the chaos of my recent days. 

The conversation went this way (I’ve edited some of the personal parts and the long-winded digressions of my reply)…

“How do you show up everyday at a blank page or even a blog when you are constantly either trying to find work or doing advertising work to pay the bills.  That’s been my challenge. I start stories, plays, essays all the time and get side-tracked, get disillusioned, and then feel like I can’t get back into a flow or that they’re simply not good enough to continue…”

I replied that, throughout my life, I have found myself putting the “real” writing on the back burner, to answer the needs of commerce or (as now) chaos.

“Truth be told,” I wrote, “relative to the blank page, I live more happily in that created world than in the real one…. It is the immersion into that world that is the saving grace, here…the difference between ‘I think I’ll write’ and ‘I HAVE TO write.’ It’s like going back to friends; the conversation demands to be had…I miss them when I’m not with them.

“As for Skydiaries…I never know where that’s gonna come from. I used to get upset if I didn’t have a couple of posts in the hopper, waiting to be published. [That still happens, as it did today.] Now, sometimes, the space between idea and writing it are minutes apart. Last night, sleepless, I tumbled to an analogy between the headspace I need to write and a horse I saw being transported the other day…fully blinkered to keep him calm. I realized that that is the space I need for myself. I taped the notes as they came to me, I’ll write them tomorrow…”

And Joni replied with words that I might have written myself: “Reading, scribbling and writing has been my salvation, my oxygen, my secret lover, and my retreat since I was a kid.  My earliest remembrance about eight years old. Without the magic and mystery of the written word, I would have shriveled and died a long, long time ago.”

We are one, writers. We breathe the same air, bleed the same blood, fear the same fears, dream the same, want the same, understand the same. Our feet are planted in the same earth. Our heads scrape the same clouds. We do what we can.

Again testing the lately-overworked metaphor between moving/renovation and the writerly headspace, in patience things begin to happen. We dig through rubble of towering madness. Open spaces begin to emerge. The crowded floor grants us a few unexpected feet in which to place our feet. The environment permits a few hard-won corners of grace and familiarity. The world is gentler, again, if not for long.

Temporary sanity is the gift we give ourselves—when we can find it. Expecting it to be there when we want it…we should only be so lucky.