Imagine you’re good at Latin and you love it. It’s what you get up for in the morning. Its grammar and syntax shapes the way you think and the way you make sense of the world, which is fine because most of your friends speak Latin too. You’ve always had people to converse with so you forget you’re speaking a dead language.
Then you move to a new place and get a job where people only speak English. You speak English too, but it’s been a while. It takes time to decode things and it’s difficult to make yourself understood. Sometimes you slip into Latin by mistake and people look at you like, well, like you’re speaking a foreign language.
That’s me at the moment: lost in translation. At work I’m learning to write in what feels like a new language. Everything I know about narrative structure and character arcs is irrelevant. And what i don’t know about this new form seems endless. Team work is new too. I’m used to spending so much time alone, and while I like working with other people around, being part of such a large team is daunting. I’m not used to working on projects larger than what i can manage myself. There’s a lot of jokes about how vague I am. I think I’m just overwhelmed. Even at lunch time when people talk about the footy or what’s happening on Master Chef, I can’t join in. I don’t own a TV. Until now I didn’t feel I needed one.
Sure, I could suck it up and learn their language – and believe me I am trying. But I miss speaking my language. A few weeks ago i went and saw Jeffrey Eugenides speak. He’s one of my favourite authors and I was so excited and had a great time. But I didn’t have anyone to share it with. Similarly, there’s no one I can talk to about my writing. I’m working on a new project and I’m over-the-moon excited about it, but there’s no one I can sit down and talk through ideas with over cocktails. And I’m not getting to hear anyone else’s ideas either.
Writing and books, the two things i love most, are isolated me. My ‘dead language’ is like an extremely possessive lover. The kind in bad romance novels who want the girl all to themselves and won’t let her see any of her friends. But like the girls in the romance novels, I can’t give up the dead language. It’s my Heathcliff. Until now I’ve been flirting with it in secret. Sneaking a few hundred words when i have a spare half hour.
Today i hit a tipping point. The Mister went out to meet a friend this morning and I took my laptop down to the local cafe and wrote for a few hours. I got to that wonderful place where I started to feel the characters and the story working for the first time. On was on a high and completely distracted for the rest of the day. The Mister and I had a Fringe marathon this afternoon and I couldn’t tell you a single thing that happened on the show, I was so completely off in my own little world. I got That Feeling and went to That Place, which for me is the whole point of writing.
After dinner I put on some music and snipped bibs and bobs out of magazines, which is my preferred mode of thinking through a story, really getting lost in it. And I’ve set aside some more actual writing time tomorrow morning.
I need to make more time for moodling and for my writing and not lose sight of my priorities or feel stupid, or slow or ashamed because this one thing happens to be what i focus on, or let self-doubt get the better of me because I don’t have my writer friends around me like I did in Adelaide. I have a job so that in my free time I can take my time with my writing and not have any pressure to send things to publishers before they’re ready of feel i have to somehow justify making funny little pictures and notes. I’m allowed to do these things because I enjoy them.