I spent the week after Labor Day peering over the edges of cliffs, stomach quivering. I never thought of myself as afraid of heights before, but I had vertigo overload. At night, in the hotel, post-precipice anxiety fits.
The man in my life and I first went to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison: 1,700 feet deep, stark walls, seemingly straight down. Pictures do not capture how terrifying it is. I clung to the fence rail on the overlook, light-headed.
Then to the Colorado National Monument. It wasn't as deep, but they actually warn you that if you're afraid of heights you should drive it from Fruita to Grand Junction, not Grand to Fruita. Guess which direction we drove first, at the end of a long day of driving. Switchbacks on a cliff edge where you turn sharply right on the edge. Every other curve felt like we were about to drive off into space.
None of it unnerved me, though, as much as the Forest Service road we went down: Lands End Road, or Lands End of the World Road, as I called it -- wicked switchbacks, rapid loss in elevation. The road, only wide enough for one car in spots, picks its way down the edge of the Grand Mesa along sheer, rocky dropoffs. It was marked as a scenic drive on the Colorado map, and the intel from the locals at the German restaurant in Delta was that it could be done in a car. They neglected to give us any details beyond that.
I didn't want to go down it. My husband did. He was driving...
And it was gorgeous. At the end, my husband said, "That was a once in a lifetime drive, wasn't it?" He was right. It was amazing.
Sadly, I had been too wrapped up in my own fear to truly experience it. I didn't even take photos.
What does this have to do with writing? Or anything, really?
Writing terrifies me sometimes, quite frankly. I stare anxiously at the screen. I write a sentence, then delete it, thinking it's lame. Write, delete, write, delete. Wash, rinse repeat. There's a reason I do all my first drafts with pen and paper -- I can't delete them down to nothing before I even get going.
All I could think of on that road was falling. All I can think of when I write is failing.
And when I get that way, there is so much joy in the journey I'm missing. I'm missing out on the feeling of making something, whether it's worthy of public consumption or not. I miss the joy of finding the right word. I miss the play of consonants and vowels when something just sounds right. I miss giving credence to my thoughts, my ideas.
The joy of writing is in the writing. Don't miss the scenery.