The silence is much louder than I remember.
Words are a shrill hawker of the street promoting unwanted wares and thoughts roll in thundering reverberation across a mental landscape of water, air and mist. Time has an ebb and flow about it. The concrete solid state of things wavers – there is a stillness beyond that beckons, calls, whispers, pleads…soaks into tired bones and weary mucles, flows across the brokenness of heart, the tattered rags of ego. I have lived almost a year in this place where silence screams.
It started in a hotel room in Pryor, Oklahoma. A long day moving metal – selling cars – at another store, in another town. The idea hit me when I sat down on the bed – “I will not write again.” It was a simple, resigned understanding that washed through my mind and into my soul. Sadness followed the thought, a requiem to what writing had once been to me. And then, just a dull sense of loss and the knowledge that part of me would die with all the unspoken words. A better part of me somehow, in my estimate, a part that had believed in love, justice, and mercy. The niave world of letters and words and stories was something of my past, but I couldn’t see it as a realistic part of my future. The storyteller was saying goodbye.
The thought of never writing again was a foreign concept to me. I had been writing since I could write – my first poems where published when I was nine years old. I had spent years freelancing, achieving consistent yearly publication for 13 years. I had created and published two small-press magazines and edited writers working for me from all across the country. My most treasured possessions in life were pens, papers, and books. And I had been an avid journal keeper and letter writer all of my life. “Never writing again” would have been a funny, ridiculous concept to me prior to September 2008.
But, that night, sitting on the bed in a run-down motel, it was a concept that suddenly seemed real and logical. After all, people grow up and they change. I was about to turn 41 the next month, and I had been working 65-70 hours a week in an insane job for over four years. There wasn’t time to write anymore, and honestly, I couldn’t imagine having anything else to say. I prayed about the realization – it seemed more like that than an actual decision, and then I started thinking about all the projects I would never complete and the books that would remain unwritten. I said goodbye to the words and the person I had been when I cared so much about them.
I kissed the stories goodbye.
I thought that once upon a time myself. The piles of journals ceased to accumulate, the letters stopped, my fingers idled.
When you stop writing, the words become overcrowded in the brain, and eventually will demand to be let out. They will inhabit scrap paper, the backs of envelopes, legal pads and computer screens.
Once you have encouraged them to come forth, given them that taste of freedom; they will demand it and you will write again.
The writer never dies, only the pen. You can not stop writing and continue on no more than you can stop breathing and still live.
I may not have such elogant words are you, and I have not written as much as you, but my words are as real and as deep and as liquid as yours… and we.. the writers.. never die.