The Need and the Work: a note to myself

by Jeff Oaks

Sometimes you have the need but can’t work. Sometimes you have the energy to work but not the need. It doesn’t matter what it comes to. If the need is strong, you’ll do the work, we say. If you work long enough, you’ll find a need, we say. One taken seriously will lead to the other. Almost always anyway. Just write 250 words down and see if anything rises up in you, if a face appears in the window other than your own. What do you need to say, we ask. What are you afraid to? What if you just start working with what’s in front of you? If you have a need you don’t know about, we say. Is the work to surprise yourself? Or is that the need?  The need without the work is the worst. To work without a clear need you might go back to the first silence. How’d that work? Quatrains that rhyme maybe? Five sentence paragraphs? Is a single page enough work? Is it enough to hear a lost voice again? What if you repeat the same sentence over and over, until you work the need out of it? Are you left with any joy? Can joy be work or need? What needs to happen to break you out? It doesn’t matter, we say, as long as one keeps at it, need or work. What it comes to, we mean. Just write down words. Do what you need until they work again. Seriously.