This is what it feels like: when the knife blade is stuck into the electrical outlet. When the bayonet meets the chest. When the limb is torn off; the one you wore closest to your heart.

I am writing this because I can barely speak around the stone in my throat. I am writing this because I have to remind myself to breathe.

This morning I discovered that a movie is being made of a book. Not my book. But a book with a foundational engine very like my own. The similarity is so close that my work must come to a standstill.

For me, now, the engine has been yanked from the train. The story that was pulled by that engine is at a dead-stop. My characters are stuck in limbo. The poetry, the logic that were beginning to sing to me are forced to silence. My months of work have, in large part, vanished.

I don’t know anything about this man’s work, except what I saw in the movie trailer and read in the book’s B&N synopsis this morning. I know that the engine of his story, a drug, even had the number 48 in it, as mine had (mine was named after my apartment in Brooklyn.) I do know that, despite their similarities, his book and mine would have been two utterly different things. But it is not that differences that count. It is the similarities that kill.

I’ll go back. Calm down. Regroup. Think some more. Learn to breathe again. Find another engine for the train. Find another way to travel toward the end I’m aiming for. My plan for 10 days of uninterrupted writing over the holidays (my gift to myself, this thing I most love to do) will be interrupted by the need to do what it takes to start over.

I wonder whether, for a writer, there is anything that hurts more.

 

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