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On Not Writing

Whenever I can't write, I end up writing about not being able to write. Here I am again. Sometimes you just have to put a sentence together to survive another day.

It's been over a month since I've had anything published, and even longer than that since I've written anything I am proud of. This happens every once in a while, a lull of sorts, when coming up with a proper adjective feels like a hard day's work. It's funny-- at my day job, I get to meet authors every single week. Writers touring for the first time, debut authors, and writers who have been around for decades, touring for their latest release and already working on their next two or three books. When they speak, they make it sound easy. They all admit writing is hard and hard work, but when they talk about their ideas and their stories and their discipline, it all sounds... easy. Like they wake up and come up with a novel over their morning coffee, round out character flaws over lunch and make final edits before dinner time. I have been waiting for one of them to stop during a presentation and say, "Fuck. I don't know what I'm doing. This all just happened." Like it, too, could just happen to me.

Whenever I can't write, I pace. I leave my desk and walk to the kitchen, open the fridge. Rearrange the fridge magnets. I return to my desk only to stand up again two minutes later, walk to my record player and sort through the albums, trying to pick the perfect one. The record that will solve all my problems. I return to my desk only to leave it again three minutes later, to survey my gallery wall and think of a new photo or frame that will finally make the space look complete. I move furniture around, reorganize my bookshelves, repot succulents, do a load of laundry. While I pace I glance at my computer screen, at that cruel, blank page. It mocks me like the asshole it is.

Some days I leave the house thinking a walk or a drive will give me all the answers; that a song will play as I turn into an unfamiliar neighborhood and lightning will strike-- here it is, it will say, take this and mold it into one good sentence. 

One day in early June I told my mother I was considering not writing anymore. It was the first time I said those words out loud and I thought that made it real, that I would wake up the following day with a weight off my shoulders and think: that was a good time in my life, what's next? A couple of days went by and I started feeling it, the withdrawal, the sick that comes from missing something deeply. My fingers hurt.

A week later I started writing again. A month later I had another story published. 


Do you ever think that one specific thing will make you whole? Like that one leather jacket that will hang by your door because it will be the jacket you throw on to complete every single outfit? I won't need another jacket ever again, you tell yourself. Maybe your life is great, except you haven't found the perfect job, or the perfect partner, or the perfect lipstick, or you haven't been able to lose those last few pounds. It's just this one thing, you plead to the gods, and I will not ask for anything else again. 

Until the next thing.

Whenever I can't write, I bitch. My back hurts. My skin isn't clear. My shoes are too old. My room is too small. My best friend lives too far away. Everything seems insufficient. I become the worst version of myself. The person who can't put shit into perspective. The person who has everything and doesn't realize it. 

Please tell me I'm not the only one. 

Please tell me you, too, are ungrateful sometimes. That you, too, forget to put shit into perspective.

I will be here, waiting, trying to write one good sentence. 

Of Two Novembers

For Comfort