Writing in the Plains

It has been a long time since I have written. Summer is not a writing season, at least not for me. The summer time is spent searching for pitchers and fielders and batters. Or quarterbacks and receivers. Or ballers. Or tennisers. Or frolfers. Or I accept that no one will play, and so I play alone; I grab my blades, stick, and ball, and I find an empty parking lot. Or barren warehouse. The point, I believe, is that summer weather welcomes all sports and so summer weather envelops me.

But that is too simple, as if my summer life boiled down to sleeping, working, eating, and sports. The fact is that life is busy. People meander in and out of the coffee shop of my life, some lounging, some making a pitstop, some commanding the space, some working, some cowed by the environs. New responsibilities, new challenges. Life changes and priorities change. I wanted a retreat, a time to withdraw and to pray and to write and to write and to write. But responsibilities do not stop; the world does not press pause and let you regroup. You must prepare for the continuation before you withdraw or else everything will erupt. And for me, even when I withdraw, I’m not withdrawn. So why waste time in retreat.

I’m about eight hours from home at the moment. With some friends, I’ve driven to Nebraska for a wedding. We reserved a motel room claiming three adults and then snuck in an extra three. We made whiskey milkshakes and played board games and card games and listened to Lorde; we crammed into the bed and wriggled into sleeping bags and giggled and chortled until we collectively stopped talking. I “forgot” to turn off my alarm, the alarm that plays the most abrasive metal song I know, The Dillinger Escape Plan’s 43% Burnt. I slipped out of the darkness into the continental breakfast in yesterday’s clothes, Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her in my hand.

Breakfast is like every other motel breakfast; the TV hoisted to the ceiling displays everywhere-but-local weather coverage, the clear dispensers hold nondescript cereal, OJ and AJ, cigarette flavored coffee, bleach white bread, waffle mix, yogurt, cold biscuits and crock pot gravy. Diaz attempts to describe Dominican American life above the caterwauling television and the gossiping diners, whom I don’t know, but we all know from every motel continental breakfast. Geriatric couples mingle among the tables, making themselves waffles. They speak to each other as old friends, as though this is the local diner where they typically meet each other on Sunday mornings. Maybe it is. The couple to my left are wearing matching red polos tucked into pleated khakis.

Well, are you ready to hit the road? one asks another behind me; I suddenly envision every one of these couples creaking out into the parking lot, only to gingerly position themselves onto the most badass Harleys I’ve ever seen, red polos and all. They do not suddenly transform into badasses themselves; they remain, fragile old men and women. This posse rides their hogs like they drive their Lincolns and Buicks, ten under the speed limit in the fast lane with their blinker on for miles.

I finish my liquid cigarette, pour myself another, and slip back into the dark room where no one has stirred. I set down Diaz and leave the room again with my laptop, this time for the lobby. This is the outskirts of the great Nebraska City, where the lobby computer still runs Windows 98 and sounds like it requires its own generator. Cloaked in white noise, I settle in to write; it has been a long time and I’m not sure how to start. I open Word. I sip on coffee. I open Chrome. I am eight hours from work and I can still connect, logging into my email to check for emergencies so they don’t become someone else’s emergencies.

But really it’s distraction. I’m not ready to write. I don’t have anything to say. Not that I often have anything to say. But after an absence I feel I need to explain myself. Why haven’t you been writing? Why do you bother writing now? Why should anyone bother reading this? I don’t have any answers for any of those questions except that they don’t matter. This was fun, sitting on a surprisingly comfortable couch as my fellow vagabonds slept; the random conversations of the continental breakfast and the occasional lobby attendant functioning as my morning background.

The view from a cramped Nebraska City motel room.

The view from a cramped Nebraska City motel room.

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28 Comments to “Writing in the Plains”

  1. Your post was beautiful. The questions of “Why havent you been writing? Why do you bother writing now? Why should anyone bother reading this?” Are questions I ask myself every time I sit down to write. After all whats the point of doing something that I love doing if no one cares? It’s because we love doing it, and you have a wonderful voice in your writing. I feel fortunate to have come across your blog 🙂

  2. Great read!
    Congrats on getting pressed!!

  3. Great piece, we write because we have something important to say! And to have a voice and not use it is as good as owning a top class car and leaving it parked up 🙂

  4. I can relate to the last paragraph. Often I struggle with the same questions and ultimately, write down to fill my mind with new thoughts. Thought-provoking post and congrats on getting Freshly Pressed!

  5. Love the self reflection in this post!

  6. Hello. If you would like to feature on my popular blog http://www.5thingstodotoday.com then I would love to hear from you. Please e-mail 5thingstodotoday@gmail.com. If you could include an image in your writing then even better. Thank you. David

  7. amazing how strangers can understand each other so well…i often have these thoughts wherein i want to write but I cannot… introspection stated so well….lovely. congratulations and hope you write as often as you can. good luck

  8. Enjoyed reading your writing!

  9. Good stuff – full of detailed but relaxed meanderings. Especially like “coffee shop of my life” and “cigarette coffee”.

  10. Loved. Please do keep writing. You’re right – the questions don’t matter.

  11. Reblogged this on WHAT'S UP WITH ME AND STUFF and commented:
    It is hard to find time to write and sometimes when you have the time your mind has a lazy streak or there is a good movie on or “Oh look the paints drying”. Any distraction, sometimes just takes its tole and then, “I’ll write tomorrow “… does come and it helps just to have had some goof off time, but then it’s time to get your head back in the story.

  12. please write more!

  13. thanks, i just feel so often that what I write is complete rubbish, and why bother. And it is hard, when you look at that blank screen, to get started. So it’s nice to meet someone who feels the same.

  14. Very interesting article! Nice work!

  15. This blog post said nothing and everything important all in one. Genius!

  16. I was raised in Nebraska and not far from NE City. I truly miss it. Your stay made an creative impression, I’d say. Well written!

  17. I came across your blog and found it interesting. Yes, summer is a slow time for writing. Fall and winter, the creative juices begin to flow!

  18. Really, really lovely piece. I am very far from home myself right now, and I loved how aptly you described those little moments to yourself before life gets in the way.

  19. Well put! You’ve captured exactly the awkward moment of returning to writing after a break for any reason at all. When I stopped blogging, I said I had outgrown it. Nonsense but some explanation seemed required. Thanks for this great post.!

  20. I love how your writing flows seamlessly from one thought to the next without breaking rhythm. We who write will always question “who cares” and “why” – otherwise what would we be? Egomaniacs I suppose.

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