Warmest welcome to my sister Amy Orban. Today she writes about writing (and life, of course.)
Haitus by Amy Orban
I haven’t written much lately.
Haitus by Amy Orban
I haven’t written much lately.
You see, I decided to take a writing hiatus this summer.
I started school again in the Fall of 2013. Now, by started, I mean tackled ferociously, I mean attacked head-on like a starving drooling lion ripping apart a hearty wildebeest. Adrenaline, excitement, pure joy, and the hunger that only a college student can have pushed me through sleep-deprived days and nights. I devoured the nourishment of theological musing to my heart’s delight.
Friends, it was pure joy, like jumping into the shocking and brilliant cold of Lake Michigan. Like perpetually being startled by the intense smell which accompanies the rain in the summer. Like that first kiss, like that first time you saw two lines on the pregnancy test. Like when you were a child spinning in the merry go round at the playground and realized it was going too fast and you were about to fly off and get a face-full of woodchips. Most of the year was like standing under a great waterfall, getting pounded by its weight, just trying to grab and keep as many droplets as I could.
By late Spring, I was ready for a nap. A summer-long nap. A hiatus. I couldn’t squeeze anymore creativity out of myself, because I was exhausted. Not just a break from the work, because work is not really work when you are madly in love with it.
A break from myself.
Dearest writers, do you ever need a break from yourself?
When I write, I have to draw out of a deep well. This well is an elusive place inside of me, a place that at once bubbles over with gifts and yet has cost for this writer. Before you judge me as an intellectual martyr, whining over the pathetic woes of being so “deep”….well, that assessment would be somewhat true; but nevertheless, please read on.
This well somehow captures and keeps those things that I see, the sadness and beauty and grace, the pictures I capture because I know I have to explore them later. It is the storehouse for all of the times when life is so beautiful that I get goose bumps and have to leave the room to cry and gather myself. It is also the storehouse for my alcoholism, for the distorted perceptions I can have, for the heavy weight of life and depression and the way I would still like to escape the feeling of feelings. These things are all mingled together in the well…it seems I cannot have the beauty without the weight of sadness, nor the grace without the lurking ghost of insanity.
The well is the thing in me which holds onto that smile on my little boy’s face, so I can slow down and stare into it later. It is that place inside of me which sprung forth tears this summer when I hugged my sister after our family vacation together, and was, in one hug, flattened by the reality that mom and dad are getting older, that our kids are growing up, that we live in different states and that time is like sand running through our fingers.
There is beauty, delight, and profound wonder in this well…..but frankly, I cannot live there perpetually. It is exhausting to live in the place of constant deep feelings, reflection, and examination. Feeling feelings sucks the life out of me, and gives me life at the same time. What I really wanted this summer was just some time to disconnect from myself, from the depth and the seriousness of life. Maybe I just wanted to be shallow for a little while. Is that so bad?
I don’t think so.
Like children, we have seasons for exploring, for wrestling, for growing and examining. And we have seasons of just being. I am just being right now, but even in the being I am storing up gems for later. Sometimes I am afraid that I will lose them if I leave them in the well for too long, but the truth is that the best ones will stay there forever, waiting for me to travel the writing journey with them. (For example, that farewell hug from my sister was in June, and has been living down in the well, crying out to me like a gift begging to be unwrapped, ever since).
I read over what I have written so far, and I know without a doubt I sound like a fruit cup to some, but I also know I speak the heart language of others. I am writing today, only because I told myself that I would not write again until it came from a natural spring rather than from a bone-dry desert as I found myself at the start of summer. The spring is beginning to well up, and slowly I will start to draw from the well again.
I am always befuddled when people compliment my writing. I feel like this well in me, this place where it all comes from….it was something that just came with me when I entered the world, just this thing attached to me. I have never been without it.
So in this sense, writing is much less something that I do, than it seems to be something that just happens to me. I am nothing more than a cup that someone set out on the back porch, and I am collecting precious droplets of water whenever it rains. My hope is always simply that as I filter the water of words through my own channels, they will come out sweetly refreshing to anyone who reads them.
Or perhaps I will just be viewed as a raving lunatic, which, after all, sometimes has more appeal in terms of expectations than being called a brilliant writer.