The words woke me, trying to solve a plot-problem for me. Woke me not like the lover in the night, but demanding, tonight, not inviting me. Didn’t want to let me sleep. Didn’t.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks, with writing time robbed by the demands of the real world; too-few hours at the end of busy workdays to answer what was asked by the page, and too-few hours in the weekend to catch up with myself.

Patience with self is hard-won under pressure like that. The chapter beginning that looked so promising is flat in the weeknight light. Yes, there is time to re-think, to untangle is a hard-won understanding. It’s a scant comfort when time is short.

And yet, I am grateful. Grateful for the people who seem to be finding their way to the work, writers whose work I respect and enjoy. Grateful for the help of friends, whose openhanded aid I should have no right to expect. Grateful for possibility. Grateful for those small steps toward writerly self-empowerment.

In all of it, one must balance one’s expectations; must walk that fine line between hope and reality. And that’s the problem.

Hope is heroin. A taste that demands a little more, then a little more, then a little more. Hope is a line without an ending. It is an appetite that wants more feeding the more it is fed. It is fragile and wonderful and self-renewing and self defeating.

Why would anybody in her right mind put herself through this day after day (“in her right mind” being the operative phrase, here?)

Here’s the thing: The answer is in the question. Why would we not?