Some nights the words settle heavy on my mind, demanding I rise early from bed and move them out. Sometimes the ideas fall like an avalanche from my fingertips – page after page after page of useless rock chasing me down a hill and urging me on or risk being crushed by their weight. And yet when still, they invite me to rest my hands on them and feel a steady throb through my arms to soothe my mind.
Other days I don’t dare touch my thoughts. I know a single touch will make them unstable and collapse into a pit. It’s like building a castle out of sand – a glorious castle that all the world can see, only knowing that if I walk in, it will collapse on me.
There are days when I’m lost. My screams echo in the canyon. I weep in helpless rage.
I sink to floor and want to die because everything I produce is lifeless, useless slag and worse why do I think anyone would honestly want to waste their time listening to the words I dare to put on a page?
I need the words to be solid.
The words fall apart.
I sit at my desk and hammer at my hands, trying to carve the story out of me.
I leave my desk and grab pen and paper, re-shaping my image or turning to a new side to sculpt a new view of the same piece. Sometimes more words can be chiseled out, one tiny chip at a time. Careful! Don’t try to chip off more than a little at a time or the whole thing will fracture.
Sometimes my pen taps at the blank page. What am I doing wrong? Why am I stuck?
I can feel the words around me, pressing in on my psyche like the walls of a tiny cave. I can feel the ideas leaning against each other, precariously balanced with no room for error and the wind blows just right. It all falls apart, nothing makes sense, nothing connects with anything else.
I sit in a sandbox with rocks, pushing and digging and tamping and setting in relentless, soul-crushing monotony. Stories haven’t been built here in what feels like a lifetime. It’s harsh and unrewarding. Why won’t the rocks balance? Look around – how do the other structures stay in place?
Rock wedges against a mountain. Canyons twist and caves form with beautiful randomness that defy imagination. How did the words stack and hold together like that? Other formations appear, grander or more simple than my own designs, all threatening to crush me with their greatness.
My words are like pebbles that can be poured into a pile, but little more than that.
The huge mountains mock my efforts. They cast shadows over my armature attempts.
I could leave. I could find somewhere new. Perhaps I could find other words elsewhere? Perhaps I can seek them out and sculpt new forms and stand them up on better terrain than what’s here. That would work, wouldn’t it?
No. No funds to seek out new sources. No time in the schedule to squeeze in a few days or weeks for such a mission. I need to be able to go and not worry about plans or time, just follow my feet and stop when I need to. Like a farmer looking for new land with rich soil, just scooping up the earth in my hand to feel it, to smell the richness it holds.
There has to be a way. The words can cleave together. I can just feel how their balance affects the next and the one after. I can just see the ideas in the stone, begging to be carved out and polished but with a huge flaw that could destroy it all if approached in the wrong fashion.
The earth is supposed to be solid – yet it moves and shakes beneath my feet or slides away like mischievous children down the slope. The earth is the foundation to build upon; an unbroken solid surface with no surprises. It isn’t supposed to change. It isn’t supposed to fall in or grow large without notice.
At night I try to rest on the solid surety of it all. Just relax, let the idea rest on the ground as it wants to – don’t force it. Just let it roll or pile up where it needs to.
Old pathways sometimes rise up. Forgotten caves beckon for a moment. Excited, I follow them until I find a cliff or a cave-in that traps me with nowhere to turn.
Dammit, dammit, dammit. I need the solid surety. Without the steadiness of it I feel unanchored.
What happens if I ignore the stone? What if I shape something else? I can focus on other things, rooms cleaned, spaces organized, files updated. So many things I’ve ignored in part because the that foundation of ideas and stories and words had been so solid I knew I could climb and scrabble over its surface and explore its caves fearlessly to connect to something primal.
Now the earth is unstable. Now if I try to climb or cave I risk injury because of collapse.
I can build other things. I can show the gods they don’t matter, I can create in other ways. The tasks are finished one by one, clearing the plain of rubble and sand and…
In some ways it feels wasted.
Ignore the words. Don’t look, don’t look. Pretend the words aren’t important like a homeowner trying to fix everything with a roll of duct tape.
Will it work?