Checking in. 

It has been a tough weekend, to be honest. I feel lonely. I was lonely before, but I didn’t have to think about it much. I didn’t have to think about the staggering expectations that I have set myself to need to meet, else perish. And how it will have to be done on my own. Of course, one knows this. But one resists.

It looks like this: After all the conversation is gone, after all of the like buttons and share buttons and thumbs ups are gone, there’s just me and the work. It’s what I needed. But it ain’t easy like Sunday morning. 


I was thinking about the gap, the chasm, between how I think I’m doing–whether I’m working hard enough, or trying hard enough–and what others tell me they think about how I’m doing. People I admire and trust tell me that I am working hard. If I try to lay out some sort of subjective measure of my own, it is hard to logically argue. Things are getting done. And yet, this gnawing, nagging insistence that I will never get to where I am supposed to be at this rate lingers. Actually, lingers is too lovely a word. It menaces, like a mad dog on a weak chain. 

No one’s days are easy. And if I wrote half as much as I worried… yes. Why do the givers of advice always assume that the problem is a lack of information? We all have something growling at us from the end of a chain. 

So. This silly, angry, buck-toothed, growling mutt of the fear of failure won’t cut me any slack. Which is to say that I won’t cut me any slack. Not an inch, you know? I’d just ask for a yard. It was high time for a more sensible voice to prevail. I looked up that one Sugar column. You know the one. It’s the one I carry around my living room emblazoned on a coffee cup most mornings. I say it. Write like a Motherfucker

Sugar/Cheryl says to Elissa, the aspiring writer

I realized that if I truly wanted to write the story I had to tell, I would have to gather everything within me to make it happen. I would have to sit and think of only one thing longer and harder than I thought possible. I would have to suffer. By which I mean work.

— Dear Sugar #48, by Cheryl Strayed

I have to work. I have to get my “ass on the floor.” Like Elissa, I’m up too high and down too low to get anything done. All the while wringing my hands about how hard I’m trying. But it’s like I’ve got a huge stick and I’m using every ounce of strength and every joule of energy to beat my car with it. It isn’t going anywhere with a dead battery, no matter how strong I get lifting and lowering that stick. 

BOOK REPORT: All this to say, the first half of my proposal is in “very good shape,” according to my counsel on such matters. But the second half, the chapter synopses, is still not working. She has suggested, and I’ve agreed, that what I need now is at least one finished chapter and a detailed outline of a second chapter–and from that we can see how best to describe the whole of it.  Because, really, it has all been conjecture until now. Little ragged bits of a book, a ton of big talk about a book, hard thinking about the need for and structure of a book. An emperor’s new book. So, I need to get down to the earth, naked among the shed feathers and stripped bones. My nerves. My bile. My mind. Onward. 

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