Monday, May 5, 2014

I Write

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and my stomach churns. I have the impression of hunger but know that’s false; it’s something else, some sort of concern demanding my attention, something physically and emotionally challenging. I fear the cancer will reappear, but worse. I’m worried about finances; my furnace and air conditioning system are on their last leg. The literary agent hasn’t called in weeks and he has three of my books. Nothing is selling.
There are options.
I can get up and write, as I’m doing now. Sometimes it helps. Since writing is on my daily list of Things to Do, I at least get the satisfaction of crossing one item out and moving to the next one. It doesn’t much matter what I write since I generally have three or four projects going simultaneously. It doesn’t matter whether it’s good or not--mostly it isn’t, but that’s not the object. Writing wrests open a small door through which I can crawl, leaving some of my anxieties behind.
I can try to figure out what’s going on. This is generally fruitless.  Even in the smallest of lives events supersede each other, and trying to find and follow one strand, one issue, is at best frustrating. It’s rare for me to be successful at identifying my angst, a multi-headed Hydra.  Plus, as they say, my head is a bad neighborhood and going there alone is unwise.
I can read. That’s the safest route, but it makes me feel wimpy. Why should I have to involve myself in another’s fantasy to rid myself of my own dark ones? No matter—I find a book I’ve read and reread, an old friend, and I open it at random. Updike’s Rabbit works, or something by Earl Thompson, Vance Bourjaili, Balzac or Mauriac. Reading in French seems to helps, perhaps because it’s more demanding. I can skim English, but in French every word demands attention.
I fall asleep, wake a few hours later feeling the same zoo of sensations, but perhaps minus the bears. It’s still dark outside. My cat’s head is inches from mine. His eyes are yellow slits and he wants to be fed. I sit up, say the Serenity Prayer a few times because when days begin like this, I really need to the wisdom to know the difference between the things I can and cannot change. I wait for something to happen but nothing does. I write some more.
After a while the sun begins to rise. I hear the thud of the newspaper thrown on my driveway. There are birds, noisy, raucous, it’s mating season and we’re in an avian frenzy.
The list of Things to Do today grows, small stuff, mostly. I need coffee. I make some; I go back downstairs to my home office.
I write.

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