I confess my brain likes to wander when I should be working on my book. My brain has an advanced degree in thinking of one hundred things I could do besides writing. The activities my brain thinks up may vary and may include:
- Eating chocolate
- Drinking jasmine green tea
- Reading, which is acceptable
- Calling my dad for “research,” which was helpful
My dad, when I called him, asked what I was writing about in my essay. I’m writing about how I could not sleep well at night. It seems I never slept, yet I know I must have. Instead, I battled sleep and then, the next morning, always battled the morning too. I thought no one noticed how I rarely slept or how I went to bed so late. I was wrong. My mother said, “I knew you stayed up late, but your grades were good so I decided to let you stay up.” If I had a cough, my dad gave me whisky cut with water. If I had insomnia, my dad warmed me milk and served it in a mug. In this way, I learned that love shows itself in multiple ways.
My father asked me, “Where are you?”
“Virginia,” I said.
“Mmm.” I figured he assumed I was in Northern Virginia, that he might not understand I was away from home.
“I’m in southern Virginia.” In Maryland, we know southern Virginia is a world away from northern Virginia.
“Oh, are you near Asheville?”
“I think so. I’m about an hour south of Charlottesville.”
“Then, you traveled, I’d say, 350…no…380 miles.” I’d traveled 378 miles. Can you see now why I track my trips down to the mile?
“Yes, dad, you got that exactly right.” I smiled.
Last night, another artist quoted Stephen King—with the disclaimer he wrote a good book about writing—as saying that you should learn to be different from others if you want to be a writer. Of course, he had a better way of saying it. The point is: Artists are considered weirdos. Those who have no inclination to create art—oh, how I envy you some days!—think we’re odd for working on projects that bring in relatively little money. Even for those raking in the occasional commission or book deal, what seems like a large amount is often smaller than it first appears if you calculate the hours put into the project.
I come to the VCCA to be among others who do not think I’m weird for writing poems (no money!) or creating prose (who will buy it!?). I create to make the invisible visible, to connect with people, and to connect people with each other.