I want to come full to this table I call a desk. I want to come gorged with ideas and words that I can pull from my fingers like a magician can unwrap scores of brightly colored silk scarves. I want to feel like what I am doing when I’m writing is just putting out what is already complete and done and finished inside of me.
But writing isn’t like that, at least not for me.
Instead, I come to this table empty, almost every day starving for something, having lived through the night on yesterday’s morsel. I come as I imagine those thousands did on that Palestianian hill two millenia ago, and I’m hungry. I need to be filled up.
So I take my speck and offer it, lay it out on the lined pages of a journal. I place it there, that first dot of the pen to paper, and I watch it grow, line after line as the bright blue ink fills the page . . . fills me.
It seems like that Palestianian carpenter knew what he was talking about when he said that thing about laying down our lives to find them saved. Or when Annie Dillard echoes that by saying, “Give It All, Give It Now.”
It’s when I come to this table thinking that I have anything beyond the most paltry offering that I find frustration and self-judgment, when I expect more of myself than I am able to achieve. When I look to myself, well, then that is my failing.
But when I come, dried out and empty as a wine jug near the end of a wedding party, when I come with just the smallest speck, the tiniest droplet of something already gifted to me . . . when I lay out the meager morsel I have, then, then color pours forth, all flourish . . . with at least twelve baskets leftover and overflowing.