Yes, I take pictures of stairwells. Yes, that is a small stuffed animal on the step. His name is Nicanor and he went all over Washington DC with Megan and myself several summers ago. We were looking for a way of making the pictures entertaining for her niece, and hit upon the Nicanor-as-Waldo motif. The reason that I posted it here is it seems to fit with the thoughts I’ve had today about my writing.
For months, I’ve felt trapped in my writing. Not on one floor, or another, but somewhere between. It was like I was in a stairwell, with doors opening to different rooms that were either locked, or full of unfamiliar sounds and smells that made me loathe to even try opening them. Now as far as stair wells go, mine was a nice one, like the photo up there. But stair wells are not parts of a building you’re meant to linger in and be amazed by, their sole purpose is give you options on where you want to go. They won’t take you anywhere, locomotion is up to you. All the choices are solely your responsibility. That’s why I was so frustrated. I didn’t know if I wanted to go up, or down. Worse, my stairwell wasn’t a private thing. Oh no. It was rather crowded. Being in a stairwell and watching friends and even people you don’t really like, nimbly bound up and down the polished steps, can be as painful as being one of those steps. I was thoroughly fed up with the jostling and with the not knowing where to go. The doors that were not really inviting at all, I seriously thought about picking. Anything to get out of where I was.
I didn’t though, I stayed in the stairwell.
After a while I started feeling like a coward, and worse, not even like a writer.
I mean, a person who talks the lingo but doesn’t participate in their field is the worst kind of fraud.
That’s what I felt like, a fraud. I even thought about just chucking the whole thing. I seriously thought about it.
After all, I have a limited amount of hours in any given day and if I’m sitting in front of a screen procrastinating and fighting a ‘block’ there are other more productive things I could be doing. I don’t know if it was apathy or stubbornness that made me stick it out. I’m beginning to think it was prayer.
Well, a funny thing has started to happen to me. I’m still in the stairwell, but something that hasn’t happened in years, is happening.
I can hear myself.
I know that sounds nuts, but really, I can hear myself in the stairwell. I can hear my thoughts. I can hear my ideas. I can hear me. In the mad rush to get wherever I was going, I hadn’t even realised that my creativity was being drowned out by all the expectations of those around me.
I still don’t know if I’m going to go up, or down. But I do know this, the others in the stair well don’t bother me any more. I can grin and cheer as they clamber up, I can offer a helping hand to those who have slipped on the way to their destination, and I can commiserate with those that are plastered against the walls looking absolutely terrified. I like my stairwell. I’m not intending to stay here forever, but for now it’s a nice place to hang out with someone I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about.
If you feel like I did, stuck in a place between places, if you are right now thinking of giving up on your writing or escaping the stairwell by a door that doesn’t appeal to you at all; don’t. Really, don’t. Stay in the stairwell. Get to know yourself. And if you want to come and find me and sit on a landing somewhere, well just let me know. I’ll make sure you don’t get trampled by all the others on their way to wherever it is they are going.