The Hard Bit

“You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees.” – Neil Gaiman

“I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Travel writing is easy by comparison. Experience a place or an event and then convey that bit of magic to others in words. I enjoy travel writing – consuming it and better, writing it. I think fondly of driving about in Scotland close to a year ago or Portugal the year before that and the many adventures I had, most of which never made it to the blog. Writing about places you go is easy. Like you’re sharing tales of an adventure with friends. And documenting it for yourself to remember someday when you aren’t traveling anymore… like now.

Writing a daily blog becomes harder when you find yourself in the same room for an entire day, with breaks to get the mail or see what the sun looks like. That’s where the hard bit comes in. Tapping into your brain and finding the stories. Doing the work. Some days it goes well, some days it peters out. But I find it easiest when, as with travel, I have something to share with others. A poem that stirs the imagination. A bit of local history that was particularly fascinating. A bear walking in the woods behind the house. Some stories practically write themselves.

I was talking to a colleague who is struggling with depression. He has much younger children, is used to being out on the road for business and is struggling in this year of years to keep it all together. I’ve heard from several people this year having similar struggles. And I understand. Everything is different, the very foundation of our being sometimes seems to be crumbling. I don’t believe I suffer from clinical depression, but I’ve had moments of despair when the whole thing seems too much. How do you deal with the hard bits? I suppose it’s different for everyone, but for me getting out of my own head does wonders. Walk more. Read more. Have more meaningful conversations with people of consequence. And write it all down. Writing draws the noise out of your head and onto paper… or whatever data center WordPress utilizes for my ramblings.

I have a friend who calls the blog my “dear diary”, and I suppose there’s truth in that. But for me the writing solves a lot of mind games I play with myself. Processing information consumed in books or translating a poem into my own experience in writing is a form of conversation with yourself, nudged gently along by the author or poet. Long walks solve a lot of problems for me, but so does immersive reading and writing. I read the Vonnegut quote above and understand immediately where he’s coming from. I’m not the only one.

Gaiman reminds me, whispers in my ear: I’m behind in my writing. Not blogging, but the other writing. And sure Neil; it gnaws at me. Jabs me in the ribs when I’m not looking. It waits impatiently for me to do the other things, the less important things. The easier things. And I look it squarely in the eyes and see myself dodging the truth. I have more to say. More to contribute. And there I am; back in my own head again. Perhaps a walk is in order. And a bit of writing after that. The hard bit.

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