My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Cheese and Writing: An Unlikely Love Affair (by Allison White)

It was only a matter of time, really.
Image description: many different cheeses
Cheese and Writing
By Allison White

I started writing as a young child. Poems, plays, whatever. I just wrote stuff. I didn’t realize it was something unique to me or even a gift to be able to use words as an art. By the age of 6, I was reading constantly, able to zone completely out of wherever I was and whatever conversations were happening around me, and enter into the holy space of stories. My love for reading was only surpassed by my love of cheese, and just as dangerous. Reading opened my mind to a world of possibility outside that of my very conservative upbringing, setting the stage for the eventual late blooming of my true rebel nature. Cheese taught me about the possibility of starting fires in a microwave. (No shit. FYI, foil seals + paper towels = microwave disaster. I was 9 years old for Pete’s sake, give me a break.) The cheese whiz and the writing I did back then were similar because they were both of low quality, but my love of both was as sincere as it gets.

As I grew up, writing became more of a chore – book reports, essays, and the like, took my desire to write and squelched it a bit as I had more important things to focus on. Like boys. I find it interesting that both my love of writing and my love of cheese both seemed to take a back seat during those important adolescent years. They both seemed to take on a perfunctory role in my life. Yeah, I’ll write it if I have to. Yeah, I’ll eat it if it comes with cheese. But there was no “extra”.

Fast forward several years and I started a blog.  A pitiful little journal of a blog that I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, I would be entirely embarrassed to go back and re-read. I purposefully forgot the password and started a new publication on Wordpress about 3 ½ years ago. Something I could build on and keep my writing skills semi-sharpened, not unlike a cheese knife. Because nobody wants to cut their cheeses with a dull knife, and nobody wants to read shitty writing, or write shittily. I felt the desire to express myself through writing returning to me like a craving for melty mozzarella. However, I fell into habits of writing with the consistency of my childhood cheese whiz. It might reach something resembling a solid, but it was weak. SO weak.

Last year, following a long come-to-Jesus meeting with myself, I decided to launch a new freelance writing business. I named it. I opened a bank account. I got some decent work and wrote some successful projects. But while it felt good to get paid to do something I really love to do, I was still not being true to the inner artist that used to write those poems and plays as a child. My writing turned to extra sharp cheddar that couldn’t be sliced easily. Or, it was like Kraft Singles: it worked, but it wasn’t the “real” thing.

For the last 6 months or so, I’ve been in therapy. Specifically, IFS (Internal Family Systems) therapy. IFS is basically “inner child” therapy and it is there that I reconnected with the girl that used to just write because it felt good and not because she desperately needed camp money for her 12 year old or a new set of tires. It was also in these sessions that I began to learn autonomy for perhaps the first time; learning how to stop being emotionally manipulated either intentionally, or unintentionally, by others. This was going to go hand in hand with reconnecting to that inner artist because to write, and write well, you have to have a thick skin: not unlike a nice wax seal around a nice soft cheese. (I love Babybel cheese and I’m going to think about therapy and writing every time I eat one now.)

When our new, not-unlike-cheese-himself, president took office, something shifted inside me. I knew I didn’t like him, but I honestly never actually thought the man would win. And when he did, I was flooded with emotion. Anger, disgust, fear. And those emotions came from those inner parts that I was learning about in IFS. And all at once, I knew, that the only way to deal with these parts and the emotions surrounding them, was to write. Was to be as true as I could possibly be to myself, and write. To find my rhythm, and write. To read all I could read, and write. To start a book club, and talk about books, and write. To follow other writers, like Chris Brecheen, be inspired by them and their art, and write. Because writing keeps me sane, and I am going to need a lot of fucking sanity over the next 4 years. We’re only 3 weeks in and my commitment to being more politically savvy and researched has already produced within me, and countless others, vast amounts of personal mental fatigue.

So I try to remember, writing is about more than political opinions, or creating fiction, or being a social justice warrior, or making people laugh, or making ridiculous comparisons between writing and cheese. Writing is how I deal. with. life. Period.

For me, not having this outlet is like nachos with no cheese. And you know what nachos with no cheese are? Chips, my friends. Plain, boring, nothing-comforting-at-all-about-them chips.

Because writing IS comforting. It’s healing. It reminds me of who I’ve always been, because I’ve always had the desire to write. It reminds me of who I was, because I write 10 gazillion times better than I used to, thank GOD. It reminds me of who I am, because I AM writing. It reminds me of who I want to be, because I learn something new about myself every time I sit down with a pen or at a keyboard. Sometimes, I read things I’ve written and it’s like I had an out-of-body experience when I wrote it. I don’t remember writing it, I just know that the finished product was HELLA good. Like the first time I tried goat cheese. I don’t remember seeing that it was part of the dish I ordered, but when I got it, and I tasted it, it was like finding a missing piece of my soul.

As I get bolder and bolder with my writing, I find that I crave the actual process more and more. This thing that I used to think wasn’t so special about me is now the thing I love most about myself. I think about it. I dream about it. I fantasize about it. It’s a hunger that has surpassed anything I ever knew was possible. I write whenever I can. I make the time. Even if it’s only a paragraph. But no matter how much I get done, the craving is soon back, demanding my attention.

After all these years, I came back to my first, innocent love. I found, in my inner writer, the truest part of myself.

I spend 9+ hours each day away from my muse and all I want to do in those hours is be somewhere where I can just WRITE.

Let it flow, soft and smooth.

Like………..well, you know.

See more of Allison at her blog: A Pensieve View

If you would like to guest blog for Writing About Writing we would love to have an excuse to take a day off a wonderful diaspora of voices. Take a look at our guest post guidelines, and drop me a line at chris.brecheen@gmail.com.

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.