It’s what writers do when they’re tired. What writers do when they feel the need to be doing something, but are way too burnt to do anything big.

We nibble.

We read. We read again. We change a word, a rhythm, a clunky sentence. We don’t have the mental energy to turn the chapter over to our most critical eye; don’t have the time to do the slash and burn that the chapter might well need.

It’s like trying to eat a wax pear. In the dark.

We nibble.

We take little bites around the edges of the work. We hope that we’ll chew through to the greater meaning. We hope that maybe we can set aside how tired we are just long enough for something good to happen. We try to forget how hungry for inspiration we are.

Nibbling.

This is not creative sustenance. It is a pauper’s meal. The bowl in Oliver Twist’s hands, nowhere near the “more, please.” The silent film comedian salting a photo of a steak. We rattle around in the silverware drawer in the dark, knowing that there’s nothing on the plate. Our imaginations are growling inside us, and the growl is the loudest sound in the room.

Nothing we can do will make is better. All we can do is wait for the food; hope for it, work for it. And try to be strong enough to accept a dish that we might not like. In order to keep ourselves alive.

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