I think a good writer is always at his best when he is not writing. A good writer always has about 630 things he could be writing but he’s not. He feels pressure to write, but set against that is disdain for forced writing and shallow hypocrisy. A good writer would rather write nothing at all than what he knows just isn’t good enough. But it’s more than that. There’s an existential angst around a writer-not-writing that serves to center him. He is a nation united in the presence of the evil axis of compromise and pretense. Yet, there is nothing a good writer hates more than the sight of his own voice trying to sound like a good writer.
Therefore, I often find my whole body united against writing for the benefit of the writer within me. My whole body helps me think of anything at all except for writing, and banishes any imaginings of writing well. My foot shakes too much. My butt falls asleep. My elbows hurt. My fingers grow stiff. Sex, eating, guilt, sunshine; anything is the excuse and the excuse is anything. My whole body is united. There should be no shame in this. A good writer is that precisely because of all these things. If ever there was a defender of the unfinished work, I am. But, at least I know I’m in good company. Besides being eco-conscious and saving paper, we’re doing our part to rid the world of useless words. My inner Indian sheds a tear at the sadness of verbal pollution in the communication landscape.
Soon it will be a myth that landscapes ever didn’t have clutters of words, and that water was all that separated land from land. There is nothing more pristine than an open sheet, an empty book, or a lone and blinking cursor. A protected wilderness of rarity, a blank page should not be labeled writer’s block, but rather seen for what it is: a committed conservationist’s desperate self-sacrifice to preserve from plunder the last best resource for peace on our planet. Let us be clear about this, it is not the words that are the hope for peace, but the empty page upon which resounds their potential.
It is not in the volume of words that we find their value, but absence truly must make the heart grow, and never more have our hearts shown the need of growth. How painful it is for man to be so inspired as to create the very substance he knows the excess of which will contribute to the demise of his own environment. How sweet the manna must have tasted that God’s wandering people were so driven to horde it for tomorrow, knowing full well it would rot in their tent tonight. What pigs we are to roost in our own shit.
A good writer is at his best when he is not writing in the way a junkie is at his best when he needs a fix. There is never more resilient and creative a man as a junkie with the drive to see his satisfaction served. In much the same way, a good writer can’t write from abundance, it’s far too distracting. Rather, the inmost mind must thirst with trembling anticipation at the slightest presence of inspiration, such that so great a care is afforded it that even the tiniest portion is milked for use. But for a good writer, even good words – I mean life-saving, pharmaceutical grade words in world full of rat-poison-crack words – for a good writer, even these words are sometimes best left unwritten. Want to be a good writer? Want to take that leap from the doorway drug of reading and plunge headlong into addiction? Think first and write while having been a writer-not-writing.