Writing is like a big, long, steady exhale. That is, if the frustro decides to go from muddled thoughts to coherent sentences. I love this quote from Grace Paley: “Write what will stop your breath if you don’t write.” I made up a word in a free-write a few months ago, and I just stumbled upon it today: frustro. It’s a noun. It’s frustration but it’s also what gets transferred from my head to the paper or the screen when I write. Because no one wants to keep something as crazy as frustro in their brain.

I have 13 drafts saved. They’re all half-baked ideas from my brain, blog posts I started but never finished, or ones I finished but didn’t want to let anyone read. One was untitled and when I opened it, it read:

There are aspects of me without which I am not Rebecca. We

That’s it! Great thought, Rebecca.

I write notes in my phone, I type blog posts that never make it to the blogosphere, and I write and scribble and doodle with pen-and-paper. Typing helps me get thoughts out of my head – because I can type more quickly than I can write, the thougths flow quickly from my head out my fingertips and onto a screen. Once they’re there, I can clear them from my brain. Paper and pen helps me think and organize my thoughts or, more typically, figure out what my thoughts are before I can even hope to do something so orderly as organizing them. I should write more often for the sake of writing because it helps me be me. I think this untitled space on my computer had a good start.. without certain parts of me I would be less Rebecca. What are those things? What makes my heart beat and my eyes sparkle? What makes me say “There she is! There’s the girl I know to be me!”?

I found the following free-write in my drafts:

“My body is coursing with energy right now – bad energy. The kind that keeps your brain from thinking straight, makes your hands shake, your breath shallow, and your face flush. There’s hardly anything useful that comes from this frustrated, consuming, unproductive adrenaline.

I feel frustration course through my veins, just like I felt pride – the ugly-heart kind of pride – coursing through my veins. Truly pulsing through my body, taking over, igniting every response-system in my being.

I need a free write, don’t I? The kind where you can’t stop writing because you know your thoughts don’t stop, but you want to stop writing because your thoughts won’t come out onto the paper. I need writing. I need it because it keeps me sane, it untangles the cord in my mind, and it helps me think. So I need it for me, but I also need it because I’m good at it, or so I’m told. It’s something I want to cultivate. I don’t want to lose it and I want to actively refine it. Right now I just write. Sometimes in my journal, inconsistently, and maybe not always very honestly. But I write. And some days I have a profound thought that seems like it begs to be written and take on flesh. So I write it – sometimes feeling good about what I have and sometimes not. But I write. And sometimes I sit down cause I WANT to write and I WANT to practice, but absolutely nothing comes. I also don’t want to force writing though. I guess you force things you want to get better at though? Yes, I think that’s right. So maybe I should force it. Not force myself to have thoughts I don’t have or prettify my feelings or ideas to make them sound nice on a computer screen or look pretty on a page.. but I need to force my writing in itself. What do I write about now? What am I thinking of?”

So I wrote (fingers to keys without stopping). Those thoughts that I was unsure of were flowing from my brain down through my arms, organizing themselves into words and sentences that put flesh on the thoughts and emotions and hormones swirling around in my brain. Then I finished:

“Can this be the end of my free write? I think I’m ready for it to be, although I haven’t necessarily run out of things to write about. I haven’t arrived at the point of writing curse words or random words yet. Maybe every free write should arrive at that point. Maybe that’s a bad idea. Probably. Every time I write I should imagine the stress, the confusion, the crazy, the frustro (a noun, kin to frustration) moving through my fingers onto my paper or onto the screen. When they aren’t in flesh, I feel as though I have to keep all my thoughts inside my head so as not to lose them.”

I’m still not sure what I think of writing or how it fits into me being me.

But frustro. It’s one of the reasons I write.


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