A few weeks ago I had a dream that the iris on my right eye fell off. It was horrifying. In the dream, I kept trying to put the green part of my eye back in place just as I do with my contact lenses. I looked down at the concave, speckled disc balanced on my index finger and then looked back up into the mirror. A blank white eyeball stared back at me. By the end of the dream, I managed to get my eye back to normal, but it felt tentative and I had a nagging suspicion I’d lost my ability to see clearly.
The last time I blogged it was the first week of the summer holidays. July. After writing that fateful blog, I began frantically working on a writing project, mining every sedimentary ounce of craft I’d accumulated from four years of writing classes. I completed the project the last weekend in July. After submitting the collection of short stories, I exhaled and then sent my children off to summer camp for two weeks.
I’ll write, I thought, and I’ll read myself into a coma. I attempted my first blog on the Monday— nothing. Not to worry, I encouraged, this would be a good time to work on some poetry; a change of pace. So I bashed away at iambic pentameter exercises for three days. I enjoyed it, but by the third day, when the poetry exercise book called for a change in metre and a few more couplets with partial rhymes, it all came to a screeching halt. Whatever, I rationalized , it’s summer, I should be resting, so I picked up a new book— reading will ease my weary grey matter. Nope.
I spent the entirety of August binge watching Game of Thrones, House of cards, and any other mind-numbing nonsense which happened to pop up on my suggestion list in Netflix. I fell asleep outside, on numerous occasions, with a book on my face to block out the sun. You see, I tried! Six books attempted and not one drew me in further than the first chapter.
And then the shit hit the fan.
My certificate arrived from the University of Guelph. I’d graduated from the Creative Writing program with distinction. It came in a big red hardcover folder; very official looking. It also came with a rejection letter. They came together, that small profit and the epic loss. Or was it a great victory and a little defeat? It didn’t matter because, by this point, I felt like I couldn’t write and I couldn’t read and all the work that I’d done before that moment was for nought.
I completely lost the plot. Violent words were said, tears were shed, and I spent an entire evening sitting by myself in the cornfields. My husband was flummoxed. Poor guy.
The irrational darkness did not end there. A fog has filled my heart for three long weeks, heavy and wet. Nothing, no rational words, could ease the pervasive thought that all that work, all that ‘learning’ was for nothing. I had nothing. No great stories, no great talent, no great ambition. Yes, even the ambition is gone.
And then came the dream; and then came school.
I’m back at college full-time, did I tell you that? I am. I’ve started an Office Administration Program. I need/want to go back to work. I need/want to be paid for all the shit I do for other people. It’s about time, I think.
I spent the first week staring at screens, baffled by the intricacies of the computer networks devised to teach us other computer networks. Where are the blackboards? On Tuesday, my mind probed, what are you doing here? Are you ever going to write? On Wednesday, it shouted, what the hell are you doing? You’re never going find time to write! By Friday I was frantic, what the fuck have you done?! That’s it. You’re going to be typing fifty words a minute for some A-type prick who doesn’t give a flying monkey’s aunt about creativity. You’ll spend the next twenty-five years writing memos. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?!
And then along came Saturday and with it a familiar rush of thought; a small pilot-light in the cold furnace of my brain. Story ideas and essay titles and sentences. Sentences. I sat in front of my computer, opened up this new blog post, and stared at the screen. Nothing, not yet. Monday was gifted to me with a cancelled class and a coffee date with a writer friend. Spending time with like-minded individuals is the B12 injection for the soul.
Today, at 5am, I started this post. This tentative, slightly desperate attempt at ‘showing up’. My inner dialogue is still antagonistic— what’s the point of all this? Why should anyone read this exercise in self-flagellation? Don’t waste their time… or yours! You’ve got homework to do! But my writer’s eye, that concave speckled filter through which I see the world, is back in place. No more blank, white staring at nothing. I can see again; the heavy, wet fog is lifting.