So I’ve got a problem. I can’t write. Not for me. Not for you. Not for anyone. I can’t do it.
In my head, I hear you say, “oh Laura, of course you can. You’re doing it now. Just sit down and do it. Write it on paper with pens or markers or mechanical pencil. Write big or write small. Just let go and do it. It’s the only way.”
In my head, because we’ve got this whole conversation going now, I say, “It’s not that easy. You don’t get it. I can’t just go and do it. I keep trying. And trying and trying. But when I sit down to write, I…well…I start...” My voice fades off.
“You start…” you prompt.
“I try,” I say again. “I’ve been trying. I know what I want to say. I just can’t say it. When I get close to saying it, I start leaking.”
“Leaking?” you say.
“Leaking,” I nod. “For the past week, when I try to write, I start leaking.”
“Oohhh,” you say, nodding, as though you see what I’m saying. We both know you clearly don’t, but I’m being obstinate and worked with people who made me dig for information all day, so I just nod, definitively, which is clearly maddening for you.
We sit in silence for a moment or two while you ponder what to say next, and I ponder the power of saying nothing at all. Not talking feels so very much like not writing: infinitely satisfying in the moment. Infinitely easier in the moment. Rather like death in the long-run.
“So anyway,” I say, right as you open your mouth to start to speak, because that’s always how it works, and I stop myself, hopeful that you’ll say something profound or leading or opening or something that will make me share more, so I stop myself mid-“anyway” and say, “oh sorry, what were you going to say?” right as you stop yourself and say, “oh no, go ahead,” and we’re stuck in this awkward moment of “go aheadness” that could last a long time if we both keep trying to be polite, and I am GOING to be polite alright, because I already told you I’m in an obstinate mood and I don’t really want to write anyway.
“No really,” you say loudly and obnoxiously, a little too insistent for my avoidant liking. “You go. You said you were…leaking?”
“Yeah,” I say, mad at myself for ever mentioning it. “When I try to write, I leak. I don’t cry. I just…my eyes leak.”
“Leak…water?” you ask, with a helpless shrug.
“Last time I checked. I kept hoping for wine but…yeah. It’s not crying. It’s just leaking. Water. I don’t even know what I want to write about. I just sit down, and I center myself, slow down my mind and start typing, and I start leaking. I can’t help it. And then it’s all just downhill from there. I don’t want to deal with it.”
“That sounds like crying,” you say, challenging.
“It’s not crying. It’s just leaking.”
“I think you’re crying.”
“I am not. Anyway, I shut off the hose at the source. I’m not leaking anymore.”
“How did you do that?” you ask.
“I stopped writing.”
“What were you writing about?”
“I don’t know. Anything.”
“What were you leaking about?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you want to write about now?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you want to do about this?”
“I don’t know.”
“Oh,” you say.
We sit in silence. I bite on a fingernail and you twirl your hair, spin your ring on your finger, scratch your head. There is nothing more to say: there’s no way to fix something if you can’t identify what’s broken.