Pens and Nylons
This weekend I cleaned out my closet and finally emptied that old drawer of pantyhose. Each pair was brutally twisted into a knot and stuffed in a drawer that was so full that they sprang out at me whenever I opened it like a jack in the box. They were a reminder of an earlier life, much like the old photo you keep of the jerk who dumped you in college.
I wore a lot of stockings in my twenties and thirties. I dressed up in a power suit everyday for work, slogged from Hoboken to the city, to a tiny office with a view of the office building across the street at Third and Forty-third, and told myself that my job writing for a trade magazine was leading up to something grand, something with a paycheck that would pay the rent at least.
These stockings I’d hung onto for so long no longer fit and were mostly out of style, but like that long-dead relationship, I could point to specific hurts from individual pairs. That pair bagged at the knees, this pair gave up their elastic and rolled down during a presentation, those elegant ones turned to wire at midnight and scored my thighs raw.
Apparently, at one point in my life I wore teal tights—but I have blocked that memory. Mostly I wore off-black sheers. I wore a lot of off-black in my twenties, which I chalk up to a fundamental lack of confidence and a desire to blend into the grimy sidewalks of the city.
Some were so old that the fibers had stiffened. They were awful things and awful reminders of an awkward young adulthood. So why had I kept them, in their own little drawer where they would jump out at me like a suppressed memory?
On Sunday, into the trash went the old pantyhose. Liberté!
What do pantyhose have to do with writing? Tossing them was such a release, that I actually spent some considerable time thinking about the things we hoard, and it brought me around to writing. I identify with being a writer, and yet I can’t say I have accomplished much. I lack confidence—I’m that writer who wears off-black sheers in hopes that I don’t draw attention to myself.
My desk is cluttered with Post-it Notes and fools cap sheets of character developments and first paragraphs. I’ve hung onto a lot of old premises for stories that can’t seem to find a plot, shining lines that lack a poem to nestle into, stale ideas of myself as a writer, and rigid notions of what writing must look like. Those first five pages of a mystery that I think I must finish before trying something new. I spin my wheels on this stuff without much progress.
Tossing my writing tidbits might not be as easy as tossing the pantyhose, but thinking about what gets in the way of writing—fear or inertia or mental disorganization—perhaps is one step of moving beyond what holds us back.
It’s barely Spring, a new year is ahead. It’s time to toss the old ideas about writing and start afresh, this time with a blog, and a new commitment to writing.
And it is a fresh start. Blogging is something new and still uncomfortable for me. It’s its own genre: quick, short, immediate—and intimate. So much so that blogging can seem a bit like talking into the mirror. On the same token, blogging can lead to an empathetic community of people who by sharing their fears and struggles work together to overcome them—and ultimately to celebrate with each other our successes.