Sometimes I can see better in the dark with my eyes closed
Deb Graham I noticed the other night, as I was wending my way back from the bathroom about 4 AM after drinking too much grape juice before bed, that I was walking with my eyes closed. Odd, so I questioned mySelf.
“Self, why are you walking with eyes closed?”
Without an eyelash’s hesitation, mySelf replied, “It’s dark. I can see better with my eyes closed.”
Well, that was worth thinking about, so I sat down in the dark hallway and pondered for a minute or six. I realized I often close my eyes in dark places...to see better. Outdoors on moonless nights, I often walk with eyes clamped shut. On nights when I need a bathroom run and feel too polite to wake Husband by turning on a light, my eyes don’t open, and I manage to powder my nose, wash my hands, and make it back to bed with toes unstubbed. I’ve mentioned before I often write notes in the night, and I don’t turn on a light for that, either. Hmmm. What does my Self know that I don’t?
Can I really see better with my eyes closed? Yes, I guess I can. In dim light, I strain to make out the outlines of the hotel dresser or the rock in my path. Just before dawn, my eyes ache, trying to suck in the faint light so I can dodge the trees. In the evening, as darkness falls, I scramble to pack up my reading materials so none get left out overnight. If I try to see when there’s just not enough light to take in, my eyes quickly fatigue from being asked to accomplish what they cannot.
But once I’m in full and total darkness, I automatically shut my eyes and rely on my other senses to protect me from falling or crashing into things. And they step up to the task. With my eyes closed, I can sense or feel doorframes, shoes left on the floor, furniture, even in unfamiliar places, and I noticed I’ve been doing that for years. My inner self guides me, and for the most part, my shins remain unbarked. I don’t like the dark, but I seem to have figured out a way to navigate in it.
How does this relate to writing? I’m constantly running ahead, flipping on lights, researching frantically, drowning in copious notes and ideas and outlines. Maybe relying on self-imposed deadlines, plot lines, charts, and keeping close track of book sales and advertising plans and All Of It is getting in the way of why I started writing in the first place.
I wrote my first book (Tips From The Cruise Addict’s Wife) because I realized I just plain knew more than most people. I’m no brighter than anybody else, but I’m a compulsive reader and have a fear of missing Something Wonderful, right there, when I travel. My first novel (Peril in Paradise) came about because of a question. How could a Bad Guy make use of the fact that immature Hawaiian sea turtles have a predictable migratory path? I had a story to tell!
I write rather a lot; I published two books this summer alone. I’m aware of at least four more brewing in there; there could be more. Am I blocking my own path by not allowing my senses to guide me? By straining to see what lies ahead and get in front of every possible contingency, am I missing the joy in writing? If I get out of my way, would I do better and be happier? Sure, there’s a risk of “failing,” whatever that looks like, or at least flailing, but so what?
I may occasionally smack my head on a low-hanging shelf I couldn’t see in the dark, but mostly, I get along just fine. Sometimes I can see better in the dark with my eyes closed. With regard to writing, it’s worth a try.