Sometimes, when I read something particularly impressive, I free write. My “response” isn’t always about what I read, or even about writing, but I feel that free writing is something that helps me step over blocks in my writing process. (Or it just helps me spill out words onto a page without worrying about grammar, metaphor, plot continuity, etc., etc.)
I wrote the following free write after reading a chapter of my friend Sean Jackson’s manuscript about rivers. I just found it on my computer, because I was in a space where I couldn’t work on my latest project and I didn’t want to watch Netflix or read…I was in a blogging mood, but I couldn’t find the right words to say—or any words to say.
I’m happy to have found this and be able to share it…
There is a particular space where writers exist: half-way between the sensation of being in love, of being so full we are flying, and of losing everything, that potent feeling of emptiness.
Maybe everyone is here, lurking or lusting over some new shiny thing discovered. But writers do this in a sort of half-dream state.
I’m starting to realize we might never leave the page—the real writers—the ones who write because we can’t do anything else, because it’s common and because it’s compulsive to us.
We write because we need.
We write while speaking, while drinking, while sitting around the table watching everyone else. We bring our writing realm everywhere—because that’s what it is—another realm, a parallel world to the one every human inhabits, a place of refuge, a place we run to as often as we run from it.
When there’s another writer in the room, the air changes. I can feel the nudge of their invisible pages while stepping across the floor. It’s like being home and being in a foreign country at the same time.
And I want to dance.
I want to stay awake until dawn, mingle, cross the room again and again, because each time, there are new pages on the floor, slipping under the table, rising up and getting caught in the lights. New dreams that make me dream more, too.
Writers don’t always need words to communicate.
We have our eyes, our eyebrows, the corners of our mouths, the angle of our bodies, the careless movements of our hands.
There is a kind of soul synergy between writers that I’ve not found anywhere else—even amongst other Deaf people. Writing is a way of seeing and translating what we see at the same time, somewhere along those invisible pages that make the air so much richer. Full. In love. In loss.
As we walk that tightrope together across the sky.
Okay, here I am again (in real time, April 21st). I’d like to add that this was a hard thing for me to write, the admittance that writers feel more like family to me than other Deaf people. Because most Deaf people who identify as “Deaf” with a capital-D, which means they use (or prefer to use) American Sign Language as their primary form of communication and they feel part of Deaf Culture, wouldn’t dare say what I am saying about feeling closer to other writers than other Deaf people. The Deaf community is a very close-knit, defensive family. Because their culture is threatened by the Hearing world, by audism (the mentality that to be able to hear and to speak is necessarily better and leads to a higher quality of life), and their culture is largely diluted (the only place in America where there is a HUGE Deaf community is within the only University for the Deaf in the world – Gallaudet University in D.C.).
I do feel a similar sense of being “home” when I meet other Deaf people who are able to sign with me, but Deaf people are still people who all have different jobs, passions, and interests. It’s surprising when I meet a Deaf person that I ALSO have something else in common with—and that’s the root of why I feel more of an immediate sense of being in tune with other writers from the start.
Writers can be introverted or extroverted, and I fluctuate between those two polarities on an almost daily basis. But we all know what it’s like to WRITE—to be so caught up with typing or scribbling across a page that we forget to eat or drink or that we’ve had to pee for the past hour. Because we get lost in our words. Because we LOVE words. Because sometimes, words are better than a sunset, or a cookie, or even another person. Words sustain us, and writers know this (and that’s where I’m coming from with this post).