The creative urge and the wonder of essays

Create, create, create. I feel a creative urge, I want to write, but I am so used to self-censoring that I create myriad excuses to keep myself away from my keyboard. Somehow writing on my phone (as I am doing now) feels easier. Maybe because it also feels less legitimate? I can convince myself that I am writing for no one, that I am barely writing at all. It feels more like a journal from my phone, less formal and less likely to be judged.

It helps, I suppose, that I haven’t told anyone about this blog and that I’m horrible with social media so I can remain pretty obscure. 

I wish I were driven. I wish it weren’t so fucking hard to write, to work on a craft that brings me so much joy. I wish I had a audience, a group of supportive friends, the ability to market my writing to real magazines with real readers (first, though, I need to wish for ideas for good articles; those seem to be taken already by the accomplished writers. I am left with jibberish). I know writing takes time and practice. I know I never dedicate myself to it (aside from my journal) for more than a few days or weeks at a time. I don’t know where I created the idea that writing is easy and without effort. Perhaps because the best writing appears as though it has flown from mind to page in an instant. The best writing is immediate and timeless. It nudges itself into the reality of its readers. It becomes reality. 

My writing comes in stops and starts. The ending does not always resemble the beginning. I am bad at explaining the lessons I see in my daily life. I struggle to make the individual universal. And I am abysmal at giving specific examples. Can’t my readers just jump inside my head, share my memories and my processes of thought? Why must they be so obtuse. 

But they are. And I will only learn to reach them by trying. By creating. Over and over and over again until my mind aches and the analogies are worn and I am forced to come to the truth. I will know I have arrived (as I always know my writing is approaching what I might call shareable) when it hurts my body. When I shake from the reality and vulnerability of my words. When I see my true self, the one I keep so carefully hidden in my daily life, come mewling off the pages like a cat let out of a closet in which it has been trapped for hours. (I warned you the analogies must come before the final truth.) When my breath comes in gasps and I have to steady my hands to type, then I know I’m close. 

If I reach that point, and move through it, writing can cascade out of me. It is me, by this point. There is no division between word and body. 

This space, where writing flows, where my purpose is clear (albeit frightening in its level of me-ness) is where I strive to go whenever I sit down to write. It doesn’t always happen. I don’t always let it happen. But when I feel the words consume my thoughts, when I can accomplish nothing from the effort of attempting to supress the urge to write, I must make an attempt, or I will be consumed by malaise. When I ignore this need to create my world becomes unstable. I am irritable. Unable to concentrate. Withdrawn. 

I am captive to the unwritten words. 

For the past year or so I have appeased my frustrated muse by writing about affordable housing. Before that, I dabbled in architectural criticism, urban design, transportation and infrastructure and other various topics related to the built environment. I am passionate and curious about them all. But none has felt satisfying in the way of personal expression. Essays and poetry, journaling, chronicling my life and observations -these are the forms that captivate my imagination. These are where I want to be. 

And here it is: time for me to take a deep, deep breathe, for my sides to shudder, for a feeling of relief to flood my body. 

The essay, a neat little construction of personal experience, commentary and chatter, is my truth. 

The essay is where I need to situate my focus if I expect to find peace. 

The essay is the voice telling me to create, in abundance and without delay. 

I will bring my fear with me, and I will write. 


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