Food for the Journey

Writing the stories that matter to me, be they fact or fiction, only happens when I give myself permission to take a road trip deep into my mind.

Sometimes I'm travelling to the Land of Imagination. Other times, I'm stopping in to visit the Old Homestead of Memories. Still others, I'm wishing upon the first star I spot in the night sky over the Sea of Hopes and Dreams.

No matter where my words take me, the way is fraught with perils. Some are as simple as the distractions of daily life; when my four year old "accidentally" forgets to take a bathroom break (a fact my nose discovered first before my other senses this afternoon), I've no choice but to throw the emergency brake on the old Wordmobile and deal with the mess.

Even if I manage to escape the outer boundaries of Momville and head back out on my way a-hunting for words, there are still the boogeymen in the forest waiting to spook me. Doubt, fear, anger, they all lie in wait, rapacious and ready to devour me. And then there are the teeny-tiny giggles of the Not You! imps who point and shake with mirth when they see me coming.

Oh, the nerve of this one, they squeal, thinking that she has something to say!

I get so weary of it all that I simply sit still, venturing no further, keeping instead to the wide open, well-travelled path of least resistance.

And then, when I wonder if writing is just an exercise in futility, a dignified vanity, I find crumbs on the trail from those who have gone before me.

Like this one:

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

Ray Bradbury

Or this one:

Writers perfect
The art
Of doing nothing
So beautifully.

From The Writer's Life published in We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For by Alice Walker

Or this last one, a scrap of memory from a conversation I overheard Huck having with one of his friends (who also happens to be one of our town librarians) this summer:

Her: So, Huck, what have you been up to this summer?

Huck: Playing baseball.

 Her: What else? Playing with your brother? Going to the pool?

Huck: {with a slow smiling pause} Dreaming. I've been dreaming this summer.

The journey to words that matter is long and treacherous and lonely.

I gather these moments, these words of others, folding them carefully into tiny squares before tucking them into the pockets of my soul. 

I will/do need them.