I sit with my notebook and two pens at the dining room table. The notebook, rather than the laptop, because my wrist hurts and because I am weak right now, terribly weak, and likely to self-medicate with social media if the laptop is within reach. If someone wandered by they might think I was in detention or drying out or trying to put my life in order, and they would be right about all of that, but they might not see that I am also comforting myself, battling the greased monkey of the mind and slipping into an imagined world where all of my creation exists or does not, according to my will.
The white page, the black ink, the clean surface of my cheap oak-veneer dining table–modest talismans that protect me during the stormy passage between worlds. Every time the journey is attempted, body, mind and ego sing like sirens. Check email. There’s half a gyro in the refrigerator. Where’s the cat? The cellphone bill is overdue. And worse. My sirens never promise anything better than a cup of tea or the occasional rum and coke, but they are adept at expanding loathing and self doubt into a poisonous cloud or condensing them to a needle point, depending on what will extract more pain.
I do not beat the sirens every time, but I’ve gotten better at not listening because of the practice of writing. Writing in itself, even stupidly stilted writing, has made my characters’ voices louder. Now, even if I cannot see them or make out their exact words, I know which direction to wander when I reach the imagined world. This world is vast, and I have a long way to go before these characters’ stories will be complete, but that’s okay. I am advancing a little further each day I sit at the table, hold the pen, and touch the page.