It’s my job, my passion, my source of stress & pride, & my constant causer of self-doubt. If I get a publication or get called out in class for how well I did something in an essay or have any other “good moment”, then I’m alive—but also terrified that it will be as far as I go. If the good words feel as if they may be starting to stick to my fingers or dry in my throat & I’m awake at 3 A.M. writing line after line just to delete them all, it’s a death. It’s a head-in-hands situation then. If I can’t even formulate a sentence then I will bury myself into bed & whine at my boyfriend about how I am never going to be able to write another worthwhile thought again. If I am in the process of writing, then I am chain-smoking & throwing papers & books around the room between moments of furious typing & hushing anyone that’s around. In the words of Robert Hass, “It’s hell writing & it’s hell not writing. The only tolerable state is having just written.”
My therapy is music, sex, impromptu make-out sessions in the car, long baths that nearly scorch the skin, city walks, the laughter of my family, the smiles of my friends, rain, sun, wind, the purring of my cat when she bends into my shoulder & places her face against my ear, cooking, the slicing of vegetables & how simple life really is when you are cutting it away.
Writing is a hell you can only visit through living. I try to keep my feet in both worlds: the reality of everyone else & the fire inside my head.