There is a distinct fear and anxiety I face each morning when I hit the page. This is my equivalent of exercise anxiety. A underwright instagram influencer once posted a slide saying ‘the only workout you regret is the one you don’t do’ and it was effective in motivating me through anxiety and not inspiration.
There are mornings when you know the words won’t come but I sit and type because this is discipline. In lieu of being interesting I am being indulgent. A common factor of my work. There’s a story in me brewing, it has yet to form. I need the first two lines and I will be fine. They will float to me from above, I will be struck with the inspiration of the Muses. Just wait.
Joan Didion died on Christmas Eve. She was old and accomplished and published. I can’t get the line “run it through again”. It means, edit your work. Comb your sentences until the ideas are untangled and the audience willing to be swayed by the sentences they are presented.
Today I am buying a printer because that seems like an action to help me ‘run it through’. I got a $100 Christmas bonus from work and I’m going to spend the money on a printer, which to me at the moment seems expensive but, in comparison to the four bottles of $95 Japanese whiskey that expenses out of my bank account, lined up in my kitchen, it is fine.
This year I’m talking a big game claiming I will spend New Year’s by myself. I don’t know if my life is spent proving points. The world is re-shaped by Covid. I would like to attribute some of my perceived growth to that. It isnt. It’s men. It’s learning the art of sitting with loneliness. It’s missing the one that history and stubbornness has proved. Doesn’t work out. It’s you MB. It’s you.
When I look back over some of my work. I flatter myself with my own talent. I need that or I wouldn’t survive. I had a conversation with my friend, the published author. And we spoke about being recognised in this lifetime. He chided that it is of our generation that we need the validation of being acknowledged. And I said what about Van Gough and Cervantes? And he didn’t give a shit that I was telling myself people will love me once I am dead. Perhaps he is more pragmatic than me or has the luxury of such thoughts since his own words have been as immortalised as they can be, existing in print, his ideas filling the heads of strangers.
Thank God, I have Marcus Aurelius to tell me that men’s recognition is nothing but vain glory and all will be forgotten. That asshole is still getting published centuries after he wrote work that he didn’t even intend to publish. Men.
The practice of writing is an act of patience. That seems to be something coming up alot lately. I don’t want to admit that the older I get the more I see that forgiveness, patience and the fortitude to endure seems to be the actual life lessons of the human experience. The things that make it make sense. I was always told I was an old soul. Perhaps I’ve been recycled through some karmic cycles. I must not be doing well if these are still my lessons.
The problem is how to approach the work, and there is no other answer that I can see other than do it. Sit and think and write sentences that are hard. Because this is not hard and at worst not fruitful. It’s easy to talk about yourself.
‘The voice of a generation’. We slap it on authors and badge them with it as nuanced translators of a transient world. It’s that they are talking about themselves in a general way. We can try that. Shit, what if I’ve only been paying attention to myself and not my generation. It’s ok, Millennials talk too much anyway.
Sorry Joan, ‘I didn’t run it through’.