Let your fingers hover over the keys, let the tips of them settle into the gentle concavity of each black square, let them select one letter after another and, with a gentle pressure, place that letter on the screen. Do that again and again while those letters become words, sending sparks to the engine that is your brain until it begins to fire and then to rumble insistently. Let the words multiply, let them trail across the screen like so many miles across the desert, wheels turning ever faster across thoughts and emotions and opinions and ideas, automatically making those thousands of decisions necessary to propel this thing, this writing, further and further along its journey.
Beginning has become difficult for me. It’s hard to find a way in to the things I want to write about. I’m reminded of those jump-rope days from long ago, two friends on each end swinging it tautly so it arced above my head, hearing the rhythmic swish as it swiped the pavement on its way around.
“Jump in, Beck!” they’d call. “Jump in! Do it now!”
Oh it was so hard, so scary. If I missed, the rope would puddle over my head, all that momentum come to a dead stop, all that energy wasted, leaving me stranded in all my uncoordinated gracelessness.
But when I made it in how effortlessly simple it seemed to follow that pattern, to get into the groove and stay there. It was like riding a bicycle - you mustn’t think about the mechanics of it, about how to keep your balance on those teetering two wheels, you must focus first until you get the rhythm, but then let go.
Let go of that tight-fisted control.
Let go of the nagging “you’ll never make it” fear.
I pick up Still Writing, a book that stays on the desk in front of me, a book I use as talisman and devotional. It opens first to these words: "Writing is hard. We resist, we procrastinate, we veer off course. But we have this ability to begin again. Word after word, sentence after sentence, we build our writing lives. Today, we need to relearn what it is that we do. We have to remind ourselves to be patient, gentle with our foibles, ruthless with our time, withstanding of our frustrations. We remember what it is that we need. The solitude of an empty home, a walk through the woods, a bath, or half an hour with a good book - the echo of well-formed sentences in our ears. Whatever it takes to begin again."
So today I begin again, with my fingers now falling more surely and confidently on the keys - at least as surely and confidently as they ever do. The road unwinds strong and clear before me, the rope sails above my head and I lift my feet at exactly the right moment.
I jump in.
I just begin.