It’s understandable that I didn’t discover a writing ritual until my early 20s even though writing had been a major part of my life since I was 6 or 7. I had spent roughly some years at a girl’s boarding school with no privacy whatsoever, no such thing as locked doors or even the joy of been able to talk to myself without raising eyebrows and then next thing I was at the university, sharing a house with 3 religious fanatics who saw double headed Cyclops at every corner, had “sisters” over for vigils and tagged me crazy when in fact, they were the crazy ones.
You be the judge.
A. They used to have these pretty sisters over, holding their hands in communal prayer and then recoil from my handshake because they “did not shake women to avoid temptation” (major Phaedra RHOA eye roll)
B. They saw me leave d house wearing black lacy underwear over my hair and did not find a means of letting me know. (I was completely rundown the night before and NEPA (back then before PHCN) had taken their tin) so I mistook it for a hairnet. Then I woke up late and had to rush off for a class.
C. I used to eat this late night meals. Maybe like around 3am and they would mutter about how that was not ‘Christianly’ They were just complete meanies!
Anyway with all that going down, it was completely impossible to start a writing ritual that had worked for others and could get me writing like Binyavanga Wainaina.
I tried keeping a nice clean desk. With pencils sharpened and pens laid out. Writing pads placed on top of each other according to size and colour. I think I got that notion from a friend who was some kind of neat freak. Then I remembered why I had not bothered to meet with her in ages. I tried writing only on the left pages of my pads. Then only on the right pages.
I would try complete silence and even when I could get that, it would drive me nuts. I’ve never been one for peace and quiet. Then I tried writing in a very dramatic environment, complete with noise but I felt like that took something out of my writing. It was like, all that drama would render my pieces cheap or average. And that was average to my eyes. Only God knows what a critic would have had to say.
I attempted Muses for a while. O.k, I’m not Karl Lagerfeld, I tried the Muse technique. It worked.
It worked. It was a he and he was cuuuuuteeeee. And completely unattainable and mysterious to boot. I wouldn’ recommend it though. That kind of ritual has a way of showing up and making you look like less of a ‘serious writer’ and more of an ‘art collector’. We should touch on the ‘serious writing’ thing in another post.
I find that I thrive on chaos and I have always got the feeling that it’s not exactly a selling feature for a real woman. I tried I swear but my mind chooses to shut down on trivialities. I find that it makes no difference if the area is neat or messy, if clothes are strewn about or not because when I write, my lens zoom on to the story, absolument.
In 2010, I was in between jobs, blogging but still too green to be myself in blogosphere, attempting Muhtahr Bakare’ s 4hours-everyday-for-10years writing style and writing poems that ended up reading like material for Diary of an Angry Black Woman. I turned to music. Writers who weren’t suckers for rules like me were doing it. Rock music made me feel like I was in every one of my stories, I can’t stand the haunting feeling I get with classical music and I wouldn’t even try hip-hop because…just because.
I wasn’t looking to discover the perfect ritual when I stu it in 2007. I have always enjoyed reading in the Throne room, White house, Super bowl…the toilet. And then one day it wasn’t a book, it was a pen and a pad. A volcano could have erupted and I wouldn’t have known. It was the most beautiful thing. I will never be sure how long I spent in there but the results were beautiful.
I still do research and attempt the ones that seem humanly possible to me (no wearing native Indian masks for me) because what woman wants to be talking to a bunch of college kids and watching them try not to snigger while they ask if your ermmm… ritual practices are sanitary?
It gets old pretty fast.
The hunt continues….
Which is why I’m up at 2:03am in Philadelphia blogging to the tune of weirdly sonorous snores.
Should writing rituals be designed, tweaked until they fit, or do you just take what you get even when writing on the Super bowl is near impossible because you have a toddler fixated on the miracle of flushing?