At the beginning of the year, I made the decision to get serious about writing. I committed to pruning away activities and projects that didn’t support my goal of becoming a successful, published author. Even though I have only myself to care for, this has still proven surprisingly difficult. I have great capacity for work, and love taking on volunteer projects, networking, and generally spending time in my community. The decision to step away is still working itself through, and I’m beginning to understand why intentional dedication to a craft can provoke intense loneliness.
It is hard, here in the beginning, to feel hope. I feel alone, unskilled, overwhelmed by the process of capturing and creating experience, and uncertain about the outcome of anything. I have no formal background in writing, haven’t read dozens of writers’ autobiographies or biographies, but I have the sense that this feeling – untethering from the familiar and retethering to the work – is something many have known.
What is surprising and sometimes frightening is that I can’t stop. Even when I want to call someone and make plans, or get more involved in a project, or simply do something else, I find that I can’t. I don’t want to be out late because I lose the mornings and that’s my best writing time. I guard my time, making few commitments, and those with lots of padding so they won’t interfere with my creative space. I keep my schedule clear so I can write when the urge hits me, I carry a notebook around everywhere, and use my phone to send notes and descriptions of dreams to myself at 2 in the morning.
This may sound familiar to some, but it is new territory for me. I’m lucky, I suppose, my sense of urgency is manageable and I can maintain my life, even with some balance. I’m lucky in that I’m not driven to self-destruction, or to hurt others, or to isolate myself from humanity and drink my own urine to survive. But the iron hand does live inside the velvet glove and now I can’t go to sleep if I haven’t written.