You can feel it coming closer. Sometimes you can smell it a mile away. A slight blurring at the edges of reality. A little langour. A wee bit of not caring for what was so important just an hour ago. With incestuous damp fingers, it takes over the self. And takes on a life that will not be denied.
I speak of the need to write.
It starts as a fever would. You know it is coming and there is little you can do to stop it. Or a little rumble. The advent of a storm. Then you know it is time to batten down the hatches. One look at the diary, and the brain says, “Not now!” There is too much to do! But the miasma will spread, as it will. You may push it further out, but it comes and goes as it pleases.
And go it will, if you look away. Build the defences and raise them steadily, ignoring the cloud bearing down on you. And you will not even notice how it passes over you, leaving you barely damp. Till you turn around to look for it, bereft and left alone. A lover it is not. It will not turn around and answer your call. It does not feel your craving, your greed.
But what could have been is not. As you wait, with your life organised and diary cleared, pen tilted enticingly over warm inviting paper, the ink refuses to flow. It heads towards lists, tasks and goals. Or maybe towards doodles and other decoys. But the voice that could come though is not there. Would that I create an inviting place for it, lower the defences and play some music. Or then, just wait. Carry on as usual. Like in the war. For this is like everything else in life – a phase. It has to pass. So you carry on with life as usual. Pretend that everything is about everyday stuff. Waiting. Prepared. Ready for when the call comes. A sleeper cell, knowing that it will come. Only because it came before. Gathering stories, dreams, wafts of conversation. People drift past, leaving their colour behind. It will be handy. Another leaves behind a scratch – the pain less important than the story it will become. And then others bring gossip and junk. I store them all in my trunk.
And finally, one day you feel it again. The tingling. Is it or is it not? Will it come this way? There is a fear, that anticipation will kill it – for the miasma fears a welcome. It must come on its own terms, in its own time, or not. And as it comes, like the mist, enveloping us whole, the arms open of their own accord. The cloud, the disease, it becomes the writer. It takes over, filling and expanding the heart. Then the ink surges forth. Here comes a story.