Lately, I've been going on a literary binge. I am toting books everywhere and reading voraciously, on the sly: reading in my stationary car and reading in bed and reading while waiting my turn at the court records office. It is as though all these years of legalese have given way and the literary gods are calling out to me again. I can read and write about feelings, beauty, whatever I want! I can write in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS or smoosheverythingtogether and sometimes I even let
in the air
like this -
or cut them off mid-sentence -
Legalese means slicing off fatty, extraneous words; adding conjunctions to cover your bases; utilizing crisp, staccato language; scrutinizing each nuance and punctuation. The objective is always clarity and precision and protection. It means throwing up firewalls and Chinese Walls and Berlin Walls and any other kind of wall. It means almost as much what you don't say as what you do. It is analyze, analyze, analyze.
So, there are the two sides at play. The head-in-the-clouds vs. the feet-firmly-on-the-ground. So how do I reconcile my aspirations of becoming a writer with my chosen profession? How do I remember to turn off the legalese, firmly, when I'm out of the office? How do I console the muse when I've been ignoring her all day?
Over the years, I've fueled this small ember of writer-ly hope by jotting down my thoughts or flipping through my subscription of Poets & Writers. Still, there was no substance, no tangible evidence behind my dreams. All I had were small piles of trash and my little blog.
Admittedly, I am a person prone to distraction and extremes and restlessness. Passion without discipline, I've learned, is a dangerous thing. At the very least, passion without discipline accomplishes nothing. It is like my well-intentioned but long-abandoned regimen of situps.
This is where the reconciliation fits in. I have finally developed the discipline to sit and write for hours on end. I can stomach the rejection. I can work myself out of funks and sadness and badness.
I used to believe that growing older meant giving up on childhood dreams. Now I think that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. If I hadn't attended law school, I would have never cultivated the ability to continue reading even after my eyes singed red and raw. If I hadn't struggled a bit during my childhood and adolescence, I never would have learned to appreciate adulthood. If I hadn't fought my way out of bad bouts, medical and otherwise, I would have never learned to persevere. If I hadn't experienced the sheer devastation of heartbreak, I would have never challenged myself to feel differently. If I hadn't stayed in California, I would have missed out on a lot of good times.