I'd like to write a nice, blankety post about what this exercise has taught me, but I feel like this is one of those times I haven't been taught new things so much as rediscovered old. When struggling to write (or wishing I was struggling to write when instead I'm avoiding writing altogether), I frequently find myself thinking of the high-school- and college-era me, who had a constant, nearly physical need to write. Assignments, sleep, maternal ordinances, potential social engagements--all would be delayed in the name of writing. Sometimes the subject was only my mug of coffee, but inevitably I'd be writing about something, and that little something was really a bigger something I could only scrape at. (The coffee cup, I remember--it was something about hands curling around the warmth, and looking for a different kind of curling warmth, and knowing it but not having it... Or something...)
And I remember, too, a night senior year of college, working late at my job in the library and setting aside entry books to scrawl out words about laboring over a poem, birthing it, with effort and hurt and a sense of loss. And while this was nowhere near the last thing I wrote in college, when I come across it in my journal now I wonder if I was marking a shift, when writing would become less involuntary, when I would need to work at it, scratch out time and room and headspace for it.
I hope that's what I've experienced a bit this month--learning that while I don't always have "something to write about," the writing can still be there like it used to be. But like any practice--like gratitude--it will take work, still, always, and that doesn't lessen its value or importance. After an injury, breathing is difficult, too, but no less necessary.
So here is where the NaBloPoMo train ends, for this year, anyway. I laughed aloud last night to see that BlogHer is extending the challenge to December--even I know my limits! But I hope and plan to practice this practice still, even (especially) when I don't have a plan, when I don't know what the thing is that I'm scraping for below the little things. I'll keep writing, keep scrawling until I find it--and then curl around it, like a hand around a hot coffee cup.
In the name of unearthing the old to pair with the new, I dug up aforementioned poem. It's nothing great, but there's something about it I still love. Written circa 2004, likely a couple pages behind the notes I should have been taking for British Writers...
Contemplating Cavalier’s Tuesday Morning Coffee
I hold my hand to a hot coffee cup,
touch my face
and feel the warmth
of someone else’s love,
Their as-yet unheard
craving for me
heats the dark of my caffeine
and the resulting feeling almost
makes getting up so damn early