I’ve just been told tomorrow they will be removing the furniture from the coffee shop where I write, to keep people from hanging about the place. I will be forced to work at home, where all the distractions lurk.

I can understand the logic behind the preventive practice they’re calling “social distancing”. I can even see people quietly doing it on their own: I’ve noticed them giving each other a little extra room in line at the register. Cashiers leaning back a little, with that subtle nervous look that seems to say “how healthy does this one look?”.

The speculative fiction writer in me is quietly playing with ideas of bad people high in government, plotting to separate people using disease, sowing distrust to keep people from uniting together against some unexpected power play. It’s not my kind of story to write, but there’s a lot of interesting–and unfortunate–source material happening in front of our eyes these days.

Meanwhile, back in reality, it seems even writers are being affected by our current world situation. I wish you luck against your own distractions, if you are similarly stuck at home. I also wish you the best of health and safety out in the world. If you are out in the world anymore. Hopefully this will end soon.

We are social creatures after all. I would hate for this “distancing” to become a permanent feature in our societies.

I’ve heard that “Interesting Times” thing was originally a curse, by the way.

This is a response to a writers prompt that I found particularly apropos at this moment in time, when I feel I have been suffering from not writing. The prompt is from How to Tame a Wild Tongue by Gloria Anzaldua, who asks you to define your “native tongue,” the voice by which you speak–or, in my case, write.

There are other tongues we use in other situations. Sometimes they don’t get along with each other. This is their story . . .

I find my native tongue when I’m writing most freely. When I feel I have nothing to say, consciously, but the words flow from my fingers faster than I can barely keep up with. This is when I feel like I am but a channel for my writing, as if I am a secretary for a Universe of Creativity that I have the privilege of serving, when I can.

This is also the part of me I miss the most when I have to switch “tongues,” forced by my classes to write essay, or delve into that very PhD-ness of regurgitated research writing that I so despise, where the beautiful pictures in my head dim and go out in a fizzle of inauthenticity. I feel as if creativity is at an all time low at these times, but since I’m forced to do it by instructor decree, I put myself to it—after a spate of severe procrastination, during which I can do no writing at all.

At these times, I feel as if my mind is forcing itself into a place, changing its complete paradigm, to become something else, something foreign. If I try to write in my “native tongue” during this time, I’m conflicted by the stress of the deadline to write in that strange unwanted place instead. Words of my own choosing will not come, my mind is still reeling attempting to spin up enthusiasm to do this horrible bidding. Instead of simply getting it over with, the horror of writing from this unknown place makes me find ways to hide from it, to do anything but that. Only sheer panic and a deadline less than a day hence will force me to get through that gauntlet and get the work done, only to spend days recovering my voice, my tongue again, though it feels diminished from the stress of it.

My native tongue is light, silly, hopefully funny to others—if I can manage it. Often I need to find others’ voices, funny light voices to read in print to remind me of my own, to give me dungeonpermission to write in my own voice again, a voice I’ve hidden away safely in a dungeon until the natural cataclysm of the essay or research paper has passed.

Seeing it this way I think it must be a sensitive thing, something I must protect at all cost. I would have thought this would bring on castle-thick stone walls of writers block that I would have to scale to … but I’ve never allowed myself to believe in writers’ block. It’s more a writers’ avoidance, avoidance of the chair in which I sit to write. I know once I sit there my fingers will find something to do. But will it be worthy?

That worthiness to write, to channel the creativity I most yearn for … THAT is the thing that will keep me from sitting down. From starting.

I am in that place now. I will make a pilgrimage to the library, I will find a book by Jenny Lawson or David Sedaris and let them lead me back to my native tongue, that silly place where my creativity resides. I will lock my essayists brain in the dungeon instead, where it belongs.

The creative universe calls to me.