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Writing Tick
By Jennifer Edelson
November, 2006, 15:30

Sometimes, writing feels like pulling a fully-grown dog tick from the fleshy part of your inner arm. Just the thought seems unbearable. A bear in the closet. A closet in the dark cracked just enough to keep percolating secret boogeyman fears.

Sometimes, that muse treats you like an outcast. Ditches you like a bad date at a rest stop between "last stop for one hundred miles" and the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, where you sit on a scarred bench and stare at the broken road for way too long, praying for intellectual salvation.

Sometimes, it takes a million tons of willpower to whittle up one stupid line. And then it sounds funny. Enough that you drive, miles out of your way for a Big Mac and fries, which doesnít taste funny, but does park in your stomach like a tricked out 68í Camaro. Foiling your best-laid intentions to simultaneously quell your inner critic and rile up some serious trans-fat fueled inspiration.

Sometimes, the slump, block, crash, collapse, failure . . . it hurts. So bad, the purest triple latte, B-movie, dark chocolate, three-Margarita-fix in town doesnít stultify it. The void consumes you, until sleep seems more a blessing than pit stop, and stories stall on "once upon a time." Until your body moves like an automaton, up and down, side to side, doing things youíd never write about if you had just an ounce of horse sense to guide you.

Sometimes, when you canít remember how, or where down the road you hit that bump, the absence feels like an omission Ė like maybe you really werenít too busy, or didnít really forget to write today, just like you didnít yesterday, or last week, after you visited the zoo during a bout of procrastination. Feels like someone leaked to People magazine that you didn't really mean it when you said you love writing.

Sometimes, acuity suffers when you stop looking. When you lack the need to look and so no longer even notice youíve missed anything. Then it takes a pair of 3-D glasses to reinvent your passion. You just want it back so badly.

Sometimes, a fault-line shift of perspective shakes you loose. A good travel that rattles your misdirected complacency. An undiscovered place that simply makes you happy.

Sometimes, distortion, like a raindrop warping a small spot on a smeared windshield, helps you revision a stalled idea. A reintroduction to people and places long past, a long drive through hazy salt air, or old plains bluegrass dipping just north, that purges the clutter completely.

Sometimes, a moment of peaceful intensity stirs you from disquiet. That great expanse between the shore and crimson sun, so vast and overwhelming, you remember as sure as the sun bleeds beneath the bottle-glass ocean, that you still desire the warmth of each hard key between you index and pinkie.

Sometimes, just a little thing snaps you back from the brink of darkness, just as your last blind eye closes for an extended siesta. Eucalyptus and magnolia smells that bake your senses on a dry scorching weekend. Shark Week, a game of Frisbee on a rolling hill, or a fleeting glimpse of an atmosphere bound fireball over the Vali-Hi drive-in. Everyday reminds you life itself is a story.

Sometimes, itís a visceral reaction to the hum of triple bond tires as they glide over a dust devil strewn, Joshua tree specked expanse of Pearablossom highway; or to the silent Poplars leaning toward a glassine lake on shadowy overcast morning; or to a savoury ice cream cone, like fresh air and new spearmint on a hot summer Sunday, convincing you to write like someone waking to possibility.

Sometimes, momentum comes without will or warning. While you lay in the dark, in bed, thinking of doing your laundry. Like a raging bull that clocks you full in that space between your clavicle and ribs when youíre not looking. And you realize, will is like perspective, a hat trick, about expectation.

Sometimes, you just need to exhale before fine-tuning your sensitivities. When you make room, it always comes back regardless. You find it. Or it sidelines you. You fit like symbiosis. Because you need each other even if you donít admit the needing. Open your eyes, heart, mind just a little wider.

Sometimes, certain things are permanent.
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Jennifer Edelson is a former practicing Minnesota attorney, now regular IN columnst, freelance writer and legal writing professor. Her writing has appeared on all the finest refrigerators in the Twin Cities. Jennifer can be emailed at:

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