It’s been one year since I started an MFA in Creative Writing, and it’s taken nearly that long for me to heed the advice of countless writers and creatives: write. Every day. It sounds so simple, yet there are a million and one distractions happening all around me at any given moment, if I choose to see them: dirty dishes piled so high that the bottom of the sink ceases to exist, the lure of a sunny day, the stack of fresh emails demanding to be read, not to mention the intangible allure of Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest.
Instead, I choose to focus on a sentence that crops up, and the words and phrases that follow. It takes effort to face a blank page, to constantly bring your attention back to where you are. I don’t take this practice lightly, but I know if it’s taken too seriously it doesn’t get started, let alone finished. And it may never be finished, but it needs to get done.
Yesterday I looked up from the book I was reading to take stock of the quiet apartment surrounding me—white walls, a desk, three potted plants on the windowsill, two shelves of books. I scribbled “I am but a guest here” in the margins, just because it came to me. It felt like a good sentence.
Writing is exploration. I don’t fully understand what comes to me as it comes. Only in writing and rewriting do I begin to comprehend what words, phrases, and sentences mean. Only in writing do I begin to make sense of my self and the world that surrounds me.
“I am but a guest here.” But what does that even mean? Where’s here? This apartment? This city? This country? This planet? This universe? Am I touching on issues of personal transience, impermanence, or universal mortality? Are these mutually exclusive or essentially the same? Or am I just writing nonsense?
The joy is in the seeking. It doesn’t have to make sense. Nothing has to make sense. I don’t ever have to solve a sentence in order to feel good, to be comforted or entertained. I just have to write.