Roger and I went out to one of our local coffee shops the other day just to talk. Roger is my neighbor. We mainly talk about writing. Roger has written and published two books and is working on his third. I have published nothing. So when Roger talks about writing, I listen. As we sat talking and drinking our drinks, I ran some story ideas past him. He told me they were good ideas and that he thought I could write some good works, and he was sincere. Well, I’ve had good ideas before. In fact I’m loaded with good ideas, but I come up short on the great works department. Writing a great work takes sticking with one of those good ideas and following it through. When I wrote my unpublished novel, I was encouraged along by my writing teacher Mary. If I hadn’t been in her class I don’t think it ever would have been completed.
I’ve always had a lot of trouble deciding what I want to do. I can still hear my mom asking me when I was a kid, “What do you want?” The truth be told, my answer then and now, much of the time is, I have no idea. But the other day after meeting with Roger I thought, there are so many exciting and wonderful things to do in life and so little time. I foolishly thought this feeling of purpose and exhilaration would sustain me and propel me into many interesting and rewarding projects, but when I woke up this morning, sat down at my computer ready to go…nothing. I was staring at a blank page in front of me with the same blankness in my mind. When I tried to conjure up some of those wonderful ideas that I shared with Roger, instantly up popped multiple reasons why I couldn’t do it, shouldn’t do it or I’m just not that interested in doing it.
Once when I was a college student I listened to a recorded conversation between Bertrand Russell and Aldous Huxley. They were both getting old at the time and I remember they were talking about death. One of them said one of the things they disliked most about dying was that there were still so many interesting things in life to investigate. I thought then as now, if I could only have that kind of passion about life.
Well, I should have started writing right away when I got home from the coffee shop, but it had been a long morning of conversing and I decided instead I needed a nap. I’d like to be able to get back to that inspired place whenever I want to. I can’t depend on having coffee with Roger and besides he and his wife Sue are snowbirds and have already returned to their home in California for the summer. When I honestly think about why I felt so enthusiastic and motivated the other day, it may have had more to do with feeling appreciated and worthy talking with an accomplished writer. It reminds me of Sally Field accepting her academy award, “You like me, you really like me.”
As I looked for a clue as to how to prime my own creative pump, I remembered Roger talking a little about dealing with students when he was teaching. He said it always bothered him when students told him that there was nothing they were interested in. He said he would tell them, “Just get started on something and the more knowledge you get about it, the more interesting it will become.” I thought that was excellent advice and plan to use it myself. Now if I could only figure out what to get started on.