How to start writing

To start writing, you put your fingers on the keys and press down. Or hold a pen or a pencil and start filling the blank space to the right of the point (or to the left, perhaps, depending on the language your mother taught you) with letters. 

Ah, but that isn’t the real question. 

The real question is how do you start writing again when you have been writing for years and you stop and you are now in the space after. 

Something happened, a bright searing pain, perhaps, an inconsolable loss, an interminable process with an inevitable ending. There is a then and now, a before and since. And there are no words that are sufficient or adequate or summative or appropriate. 

There is no desire to inflict the something that happened on others. And yet, the something that happened is there. It is part of you and thus is part of them, at least as far as you are part of them. 

I wrote to a friend. “I feel inarticulate”, I said. He said, “What you call inarticulate most people call numb.” 

I said to Nancy, “I can’t speak.” She said, “You speak through your fingertips.” 

I keep swiping, which is, I now know, a fundamentally different motion of the finger, and of the heart, than putting your fingers on the keys and pressing down. 

When you swipe, you are taking in. The distractions from your story, the combat and the chaos and the chuckles and the callings and the cravings and the calm. But if you, actually if I, swipe too much, something is swiped from me. From my attention, my reflection, my time, my me. 

When you put your fingers on the keys and press down, the flow is, or can be, inside out rather than outside in. Finishing the word, the sentence, the paragraph means that you are finishing the thought. Better, you are finding the thought, you, again I, am finding out what I think and what I feel and what I know and don’t know. 

And so, it turns out that the way you start writing again is that you put your fingers on the keys and press down, using the language your mother taught you.

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