Those folks do. Those who can’t, they write about it.
I have had not had much to say about writing, recently. The energy has gone into the doing of it, with wildly mixed results.
I have been testing my limitations. Doubting myself mightily. Writing myself into mental exhaustion. Making difficult adjustments to long-cherished beliefs. Knocking down the straw-woman of myself, only to stand her up again to write another day. And, did I mention?, doubting myself mightily.
The day changes, the dance remains the same. The “ooooh” stuff of one morning is dreck the next. The carpentry of chapters dismantled and reassembled is a promising exercise to an uncertain result. I am not writing “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” or “The DaVinci Code” or [fill in the name of the latest denizen of the best-seller list.] Is that because I am a deluded, talentless lout? Or that I simply lack the commercial acumen to know a good formula when I see one?
Or is it because I might actually have something unique to say that doesn’t fit where those other works seem to do so comfortably?
Damned if I know.
Here’s the sad, unpleasant, nasty, awful, deluded, difficult thing: This week, I actually considered giving up writing. Quitting it cold. Surrendering to the bad angel who persists in telling me how utterly limited and without future I am. And the most terrifying moment was the glimpse of my life on the other side of that decision:
There was no there, there.
Hard to describe the view of that nonwriting life. The total, unrelenting emptiness of it. The stare-at-the-walls and wait for the day, the week, the year, my life to end blackness of it. The what-do-other-human-beings-do-and-how-do-they-live? parade that the days would become. The hell of me alone with me forever.
So what I tell myself—the kindly advice I give to me in this moment—is this… shut the eff up and get back to it. Face the fear and work harder. Give up what needs giving up. Do it. If there is nothing but a cliff’s edge at the end, do it. If the only voice that ever makes itself heard is you talking to your misguided self, do it. Sometimes surrender is the only reasonable response.
No choice. Sometimes it’s the best choice of all.