Think Like a Writer, Write Like a Thinker. Or something.
A couple of things happened when I decided to ‘stop writing and get a real job’.
One: I got a real job.
Two: I couldn’t stop writing.
Well the truth is the stopping of the writing was not too difficult, I was rarely actually really writing anyway. But could I stop thinking about writing? Not a chance. I came to realise that on that nondescript winter morning last year when I woke from a super cool dream and decided that I needed to write a-whole-bunch-of-creative-shit down (a 90 page screenplay for a sucky romantic comedy to be precise), something changed in me. There was a fundamental shift in the way that my brain functioned and the way I perceived my own experiences. Suddenly, and from then on, everything that went through my mind spoke like a story, a picture book, a movie script, a blog post. My thoughts became a constant state of prose - an affliction that apparently cannot be reversed.
The good news is that it is a wonderful way to see the world. It is mindful and it is present, it is wondrous and incredulous and curious and fun.
I hear my story-writing commentary whir away as it describes to me what I am feeling, emotionally and sensorily, as I stroke my daughter’s cheek with the back of my forefinger or stare into her eyes trying to watch her amazing brain work as she constructs a masterpiece or solves a problem. I hear a blog post being formed as my son throws hilarious made-up jokes at me (Mum, why is God afraid of Godzilla? Because Godzilla’s name is GOD – zilla! Do you get it mum? GODzilla!) or says the funniest, sweetest things a little man could ever say, whispering in my ear in the quietest voice with the tiniest lisp (‘Mum, you know how you think you are so funny? Well I think you are funny too…and I hope you always have sweet dreams.’).
Then at least once a week some obscure thing that asked to be noticed, or some totally mundane thing that should have always been noticed, will spark a thought that will spark a story that will spark an explosion in my mind. A plot for a novel will start bubbling and brewing in the imagination and give me something intriguing and inspiring to think and dream about as I cook the sausages, or listen to the kids’ crappy modern pop music, or fall asleep at night.
With my brain in pretend-writing mode I can feel the joy of the mind’s imagination as well as catch the truth in the tiny moments happening around me. And in a very dark year with very harsh realities, it may have even saved me.
So, as for this decision to stop writing and get a real job? It’s clearly not going to happen. Oh, wait, no, it is happening, I got the real job. The contract has already started in fact. And it is a great job that I am looking forward to getting my teeth into. But as it turns out I won’t stop writing, well at least I won’t stop thinking about it. And I can even still feel the little light of hope that one day I might be writing, actually really writing, and that is my real job.
*I just want to add my thanks to everyone who got hold of me when I mentioned I was calling it quits on the writing and gave me an amazing list of reasons why I shouldn't. It was overwhelming, unexpected and incredibly appreciated. And it made me write all this stuff about what I was thinking...about writing...about thinking...o dear, please don't eat your words...