Early in July, I became the owner of a home that will give our family the space we’ve long needed. I also became a de facto general contractor. My fix-it list is rapidly growing; my word count is not. How easily non-writing work can fill the time we set aside precisely for the page — especially when such busyness sometimes gives us more sense of accomplishment on some days than the few paragraphs we may add to a work in progress …
I don’t want to write about this, she said.
For the woman who spoke these too familiar words to me, this was illness. Insidious, consuming, chronic. I nodded because it was also my story, just with different symptoms. We spoke in the shorthand we had each become practiced at employing around our narratives, framing conditions that did not, in spite of our best efforts, abate. I don’t know how to write about this, I thought. And I wondered if that was what, deep down, she had meant.
During some downtime at Vortext, the writing salon I attended earlier this month, I jotted into a notepad, trying to put a tail on the thoughts I’d started to gather on the ferry ride to the retreat grounds that morning. To pin down the questions I wanted my book to ask and to illustrate why they mattered by sketching out its opening scene.
I had resisted writing those words. As I let the questions take shape, however, I realized that my resistance needed its own place on the page. That the struggle to frame the questions was an essential part of the story too.