I often tap the keys of the keyboard softly, not pressing them enough to add another letter on the page, just a touch, a tactile response to the irritation of not knowing what to put down. It is an exercise in restraint. All writers have their ticks. This is mine. I do it when I am blocked, but mostly, I do it when a thought feels too real. I must stop and tap, tap, tap on whatever key has the misfortune of being under my forefinger. In those few seconds, every word I can ever write and have ever written is suspended all around me. Then, my hands do the work.
The writing happens as soon as the first key clacks. All I can do is watch, almost as if I were not even doing it, as if it was all coming to me by divine intervention. But the exhaustion when the hands stop and the keys stop clicking tells me it was nothing but hard work. Most work does not feel like so when you’re absolutely into it, deep into the trenches when time runs by as if the concept was never invented. When you’re done, you cannot be sure if it has been just a little while or if an entire year has passed.
It is, perhaps, a gift—this continual flame of innate motivation that does not seem to flicker. They often ask me what makes me go. I wish I had an answer for them, but it came to me like breathing. The body never asks what it is breathing for. We understand how it happens, but the body does not ask. It begins on the day we are born. Then, it keeps going as far as it can, as far as the lungs can hold air, as far as the heart keeps pumping blood. My resolve came to me like air.
This inclination to keep at things, to keep working, was as natural to me as laughter. I could not, for the life of me, give a procedural reply for something I did not make an effort towards. I can tell you how to make a good cup of coffee, for I make it on my own, but I can not tell you how I brew motivation. I do not know where this will bring me years from now. But like how when time runs out, no one asks how much air they used in all their days, I shall not ask what it was all for. All I have for anyone on this matter is silence.
Or on most days, an absurd joke: some of us have drudgery in our blood.