I desperately wish I could explain what it means to sit down with yourself, a keyboard, and 3 days cut off from the world (mostly…I did see the people whose property I was staying on on occasion), and write. Just write.
It was absolutely wild. I cannot even begin to understand what was happening.
I went in with absolutely no clue what I was going to write. I always have several things bubbling around, but rarely do those ideas get fully flushed out to my satisfaction. And lately, fiction or creative non-fiction, has fallen by the wayside. It is one of the reasons I decided to put myself through this rigorous activity; I, like most who love to write, have always wanted to craft a novel. I’ve never even set the parameters of it being a “good” novel; just a finished one.
I had put this idea away, and sort of written it off as something I couldn’t do, couldn’t complete rather. I have little doubt that I can write well, on and off, but I have had very little belief that there was any way to extend that into long form. I get wildly lost in random thoughts when I don’t know where I want to take a story.
This, indeed, did prove to be a challenge.
The first day, to put it simply, was excruciating. I started at the appointed time of 12:01 a.m. Saturday, and wrestled and rangled with my brain until around 3 a.m. Already, I wanted to quit. I had barely written 3 pages in 3 hours and I felt like I had been running a race for hours; it was that level of exhaustion.
I went to bed with the intention of getting up in a few hours and trying again. I did get up, I did give it a shot at 6:30, and couldn’t see or type straight. They don’t call it writer’s block for nothing. Someone had climbed into my head and brought a giant slab of granite with her/him.
I decided to toss it in and go back to sleep. For some reason my brain decided to throw a hilarious reversal of fortunes at me, robbing me of my usual dance with insomnia, and replacing it with a normal human’s desire for sleep.
When I awoke, I felt an intense desire to flee the whole circumstance, but I didn’t. I pushed the granite through the day, taking many breaks to do yoga, and literally skip up and down the slope behind my cabin, to the road, back again and again to the power of 1 gazillion, singing who knows what. I was making it up as I went, and it was probably completely insane and incomprehensible, which was very apropos. I danced in the trees, talked to woodland creatures, bonked my forehead on the mossy earth repeatedly, burst into tears a few times, laughed at sudden sentences and images bursting into my brain.
The end of day one brought with it a very early tumble into bed. I didn’t even try to drag myself to the witching hour against my own will. I fell asleep probably about 9 and slept more solidly and deeply than I have in years. I mean that. I cannot even remember a time I haven’t gotten up even once in the night.
12 hours or so later, I stretched like a lazy tabby into day 2. The bonus of sleeping well, is that it relaxed me and the freaking out dulled down.
I was just around the corner from finding a jack hammer to pummel that granite block.
My hosts kindly allowed me to not only stay in one of their little cabins so that I would have privacy, but they let me use their outdoor shower (step number two after a solid night of sleeping on my writer’s recovery list…CBC radio in the shower, full of energetic classical music whirling with the water…unbelievably and beautifully invigorating) and made me a pot of coffee (the last and crucial step at that particular juncture).
And that is when it happened; my mind flew maniacally into hyper overdrive. I wasn’t quite prepared for the madness and the necessary fury of my typing fingers. Hand written would’ve been better in certain ways, but that’s not how the contest works, so that wasn’t an option. And honestly, the medium you use does change the type of book you are going to write. Being forced to use my computer only has many advantages; it does increase volume once you can see where the story is going and you write something different than you would in long form. It is good to do things in a variety of ways and see what happens.
Ideas, phrasings, scenarios were pummeling me so quickly I couldn’t keep up. And while I was typing I was trying to keep pace with where the story was and simultaneously run ahead to see where I was going, as well as drop ideas that wouldn’t work as quickly as they popped up. I really thought I was going to leap out of my skin at certain points, because I knew I was knocking it out of the park.
I don’t know how else to explain it, and I don’t know if it’s accurate, but it was a bursting through; I could see the face of everything. This experience is what people are looking for, this walk, leap, fall, high, tumble into a brilliant timeless light filled spacelessness. There’s nothing I can say that gives the situation its proper due. The intensity was beyond anything, absolutely anything I’ve experienced. Out of body, yet deeply in it too. It’s not that I’ve experienced nothing like this before, but it was much more based on external stimuli, and this was the result of the landscape of my mind.
It wasn’t easy from this point forward, because what was coming out was the story I absolutely had to write and that brought with it everything on the spectrum. I literally had no control at that point; I, Leanna Dawn Greenway, was merely taking dictation. Even now, writing about it, I am feeling my heart beating harder and I’m welling up.
Day 3 was a slide down the hillside. I scribbled a few notes at the beginning of the day, because I knew, no matter what the ultimate quality and quantity ended up being, I had to resolve the story. And through some sheer burst of light, and fortunate guidance, I made it to the end at the exact moment that I officially lost all possible steam to propel me further. It was precisely the amount of energy I needed and when it was over, I felt at peace, at rest, at bliss.
This was all for me, to see me, and I offer up all gratitude to the universe for blessing me with such incredible gorgeousness, a beauty that cannot be surpassed because it is beauty itself. It is there for everyone to find, to know, to be. It can be accessed in so many ways, and writing is one for me.