The Most Liberating Prison

You wake alone in a field. The only feature the sheer anonymity of the tall grasses. There are no crumples or creases or signs of life. There is no sound save for your heart beating in your chest. You rise and begin to walk through the pristine, primal grasses. Your movements are unsure, uncertain. You don’t know where to go. Don’t know why you’re here.  You wonder. You wander. You stop a few paces away from where you began and look back and there is no trace of your passing. You hear a distant thrumming sound. You push through the grasses now pulling against you. The ground wants to draw you down. The firm earth turned to mud, threatening to mire you. The sound grows closer. You push harder.  You now recognize the sound is a gentle orchestra. Pistons firing, an engine moving, the wind fighting against metal as rubber rolls across asphalt. A car. A road. Signs of life. Hope.

This is how writing feels at its worst.  You are alone, completely alone, hoping and waiting for an idea to take you away somewhere, anywhere. You want noise to fill your head. Distractions to distract you from your (lack of) thoughts.

So, why do it?

Simple.  Not doing it is worse.

The need, the necessity, of writing is the most liberating prison there is. When it’s going well, no high can compare. To create something from nothing, to give and take life, to bring order to chaos, fulfills a deep need, scratches an artistic itch, and allows us to connect with a hidden part of ourselves (and, possibly, share that hidden self with others).  And calms the mind for a time. At least, until the next idea takes hold.

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