Maybe Don't Go On A Trip To The Desert By Yourself
For the past 12 years I've had insane writer's block. Some people don’t believe in writer’s block, but I disagree. Let’s not get into a technical debate here, let’s just agree that there are blocks in the road when it comes to your art and you can either push through them or you can allow them to keep you from making something.
I've allowed them to keep me from making something.
I haven't been very dedicated to art or writing in a long time. I've had numerous failed attempts at different side-projects, none of which have interested me or the people I've worked with. The more I think about it, the more I realize I haven't really been in bed with my writing. When was the last time I played some serious slow jams and got with my writing? I mean got with it to the point that we're questioning our casual relationship. What are we doing? Why aren't we together? Isn't it obvious?
To help change things up, I decided to take a trip to Joshua Tree to work on a few blog posts. Before my trip, people kept asking me if I was going to the desert to find myself. Not exactly. This isn't Wild. I’m not getting over a divorce, a dead mother and a heroine addiction. Also, I just told you I’m staying in a hipster cabin in Joshua Tree for one night and getting a slice of The David Bowie from Pie For The People while I'm there. If I’m finding anything it’s 900 extra calories that I don’t need and a hopeful attempt at writing a paragraph.
The morning of the trip started all wrong. I had a sink full of dishes to do before I left and a shower to take and couldn't get any hot water to work in my apartment. I broke a glass on the floor of the kitchen after spilling a bag of trash in the hallway. In efforts to dodge traffic, I spent an extra thirty minutes on the road only for Google maps to tell me to retrace my steps and put me on a highway full of traffic that delayed me by three hours. Why did this feel like my life? Nothing had really gone well that year. I'd gotten food poisoning twice in one month and couldn’t remember the last time I slept through the night without waking up at least once. I was trying to get somewhere with writing (and men) but nothing was working. I was going to the desert so it could remind me of something, but why was is reminding me of this?
To set the writing mood, I tried lighting incense that was laying around the cabin with a small space heater because I couldn’t find any matches. The incense didn’t light and I attempted doing a few yoga poses instead to see if I could clear my head. While I was mid-downward facing dog and eating a slice of pizza (because you can do both at the same time) I tried to get in touch with what my friend Paige calls "the woo." After the second slice I realized it wasn't working and opened my computer to write. I got a few rough pages done but writing in the desert by myself for one night wasn't going to cure writer's block.
The next morning I made coffee and sat on the porch. You couldn't see the road from the cabin and it was part of what looked like an artist commune with rundown cars and abandoned buildings next to it. As I looked around, I noticed that most of the buildings were boarded up and said “No Trespassing” on them. You didn't need to trespass. Nothing was in those buildings and they were just as empty as the desert they were in.
They were just as empty as the desert I was in.
This is the wanderlust we have: to find the things we can’t find within ourselves. We are looking for a place to show us, a person to show us or an experience show us. I went to the desert because I was looking for a mirror image of the place I was with writing and in the desert I found a wasteland that I had been standing in for 12 years. I was so close to the road but I didn’t know how to get to it.