Why do you write like you’re running out of time?
The awful part about being back at work was the immediate, total drain on my creative energy. This seems like such a petty complaint, in the face of being a working mother - of a three month old, no less. This morning felt, at first, more productive than yesterday morning: I was able to sit down, open my laptop, and glance at emails, at my schedule. And then I thought of a task that I needed to complete, which in turn reminded me of another thing I was supposed to do, which set off an avalanche of Stuff To Complete. I thought, okay, relax, just make a to do list, get everything done one item at a time, like you used to. And for some reason, it was this totally legitimate and helpful suggestion - from myself, mind you - that set me over the edge, crying in my room as the kids thundered up the stairs, banged their lockers open. My cranberry muffin untouched. I didn’t have time to eat before first period began.
But yes, amid this internal drama, I’ve found the wherewithal to bemoan the difficulty in finding both the time and the drive to write some piddling essays that so few people read. I didn’t begin this challenge to gain popularity; I thought it was important to simply exercise this muscle that I had allowed to grow weak and flaccid. That it has become a daily chore is either essential for building discipline or detrimental to my mental well-being, depending on the writer you talk to. I’m torn between the two. Sometimes I’m afraid I’m not ambitious enough. I have all of these goals and yet I just want to sleep. Why do you write like you’re running out of time? There’s this persistent need to be doing more, reading more, writing, writing, writing, more, learning more, constantly pushing myself because that’s what you’re supposed to do, what we tell our kids to do, push yourself, and I’m tired and ashamed of my fatigue. Who am I to indulge my weakness? How dare I?
I once read a Greek myth about Erysichthon, who pissed Demeter off for some reason or another, so she cursed him with insatiable hunger. The more he ate, the hungrier he grew, until finally, he ate himself. Yum. Morbid as the image is, this is what I aspire to: I want my writing to be that poor bastard, growing ever more insatiable the more I indulge it. Rather than offering itself over and over again until it dries up, like so much water lifted from a well. Leaving an empty hole in the earth, bone-dry and forgotten. Why do you write like you need it to survive? However meager these portions, I’m still going. Still eating. Still creating. However meager.