So then I say to my 10th grade English teacher, I say, "Listen. "It's not gonna happen. I'm not gonna write this essay based on a book that I didn't read with a prompt I'm bored by. Just. I mean. Here. Can you please grade this instead?" I hand him the 4-page short story I wrote.
He takes the backpack-crumpled papers from my sweaty teenage hand, glances at the Times New Roman, double spaced, justified story about a girl who uses her horrible sunburn to warm and heal her parents, who'd both suffered a rare body temperature disorder after a terrible car accident. (Oh, also, I titled it, "In Heat." Seemed like a good one at the time.) My ultra-hip teacher raises his eyebrows like he can't believe what he's about to say. "Fine, Erica. I'll grade this instead." I walk back to my desk, sooo smug, sooo proud of myself. I'm getting out of a required assignment for one that makes the most sense to me...for the 6th time this semester.
For me, writing feels like sex. I feel that thing when I get going; that aching in the pit of my stomach. It's the, Woah, this is really happening. We're really taking off our clothes, you're really laying on top of me. I'm serious about kissing you, touching you everywhere. I'm so excited and nervous and present I can't even breathe. My eyes widen at one part and close at another, taking everything in with my other four senses. My heart beats faster, my chest is red and I don't even realize my toes have been curled and tense this entire time. Yes, writing is the same as sex, except, I get to decide how it ends. When it ends. If it ends. I can finish a story one way, go back and end it another. Writing waits for me to be in the mood again. It doesn't remind be how long it's been since the last time. It's so certain I'm coming back, because, really, it knows I can't live without it.
Sometimes, though, the "sex part" of writing doesn't happen so easy. The first time I experienced Writer's Block was 2007, when my Dad died. Before then, I had been paying my best friend to write my college papers so that I could, as usual, focus on what was really important to write about; teen dads who beat the odds, hitchhikers who didn't make it out alive, an agoraphobic Door-to-Door salesman... I thought I'd have much to write about when my Dad passed, but it wasn't there. I didn't have it in me to reach in and grab those Word McNuggets, dip them in some ketchup and go to town. In fact, I didn't get the "Sex Part" back until two years ago, in preparation for my final project for graduation from The Institute for the Psychology of Eating. (Password is 'Erica' with a capital E, if you wanna take a gander.)
Writing just does it for me, guys. It's the thing I've always turned to when nothing makes sense and everything makes sense. At times, my writing has served as a crutch, an obsession, a vice, a drug, even; the inherent knowing that no matter how shitty or elated I feel, I can always write about it, get it out, make some of it up, make all of it up, turn it into art, into something everyone wants to read.
Mostly, creative writing was the key to healing my relationship with food; studying my eating disorder from all angles, several voices and so many perspectives. It was the most fun way for me to get under my struggles with food & body image to understand them better, and eventually lay on top of what I, deep down, knew to be true and could finally put into practice. And that was the real "sex part".
Whatever your art is, wherever your release comes from, make sure it has a "sex part"; an element that takes you so far out of yourself that you land someplace else, to explore new ideas, familiar feelings and primal joys. It's that important. Seriously.
*If writing is your jam but you don't even know where to start or how it can help you, then consider spending an hour with me NEXT Friday, (3/25/16) @ 7pm for a live webinar: "How Creative Writing Heals Our Relationships". TO REGISTER FOR THE FREE WEBINAR: Click the photo below and send me an RSVP through the registration form!
With my whole heart,