I did some writing today.
It has been a while. Not because I haven't had ideas. There's no shortage of those. Is that what we mean when we say "writer's block"? That we haven't got any ideas? Or we can't find a way to articulate the ideas we do have, so they remain locked inside?
I started to ask myself "why do I avoid writing?", as if I didn't already know the answer.
And avoid writing, I sure have. For months and months, except for a few little tunes squeaked out here and there. The ideas come, and they come often. In fact, I have so many scraps of paper, so many thoughts scribbled down, I can hardly keep up with them. Organizing them seems impossible. Lyrics and chord progressions and melodies, but only bits and pieces. I guess I should give myself a tiny bit of credit...writing down the fragment of an idea has got to be part of the process, hasn't it? The hours I've spent distracting myself with other projects or zoning out by consuming the stories of others...I don't know if that can be counted as part of the process. Maybe.
I have rarely found the desire or the discipline to sit down and do the work, despite the fact that the desire to have these songs out of me is very much alive. And yet, knowing I have songs to sing and that writing them will heal me and that sharing them will nourish me just hasn't been motivation enough. Why???
I HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE.
And I think that's why I avoid. I have been here before. Though I know the benefits, I also know the process. I know the pain. I know that when I find a way for all the hope and heartache and longing and lament to exist in a song...that when I finally wrestle it out of myself...that when I scrape up the money and pay to record it...when I quietly open my hands and let it go into the world...that's it. I have no choice but to let go.
The song will still be mine, but it also won't be. It will be anyone's. It will be yours, if you want it to be. And while that is just about the most beautiful thing in the world, it is also the most difficult.
I've had a very specific project started for many months now. I have a clear vision. I have more than enough to say (too much, in fact). I am confident enough in myself and in my abilities as a writer to just let the songs be what they are...I'm not interested in trying to turn them into something else...something that will sell or sound like anyone else. But...
Writing them will eventually mean letting them go. Letting the songs go will mean letting go of the person they are about. And there it is. Why do I avoid writing? Writing is letting go. Letting go hurts.