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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

will it be faith or fear?

You are forgiven
I open all my doors
You are forgiven
What a heart is for
I am no martyr
You give me reason
I try harder
And I wait
for a warmer season
Meanwhile,
You are
forgiven

And it's time
to go
I cannot stay
You cannot know
My love
So dear
Will it be faith
or fear?
"Forgiven," Deb Talan

It's hard not to think the lesson of this week is anything other than, You were an idiot to go to Dubai. Things I didn't expect but probably should have mean that I am being that utterly annoying person chasing down checks, when I should be using words for much better purposes. It's difficult sometimes to even face the day knowing that in a month I will be 37 and, if you judge from my bank account, I'm a complete and total failure of a person. I don't want to judge based on that, but now that it's getting to the point where I barely have enough money to, say, get to Philadelphia and back next week for a reading, it's starting to feel that way. It's an awkward place because I know in a few weeks, I will very likely forget about the scary numbers when I log in to my bank account. I will have checks and hopefully more work and books that have made me want to quit this foolish business, if I had any other skill to fall back on, will be in production.

And yet it's also been a chance to enjoy the quiet, to not leave the home in the suburbs for two days, a home that, while not identical, will likely be akin to one I'll be living in. Not tomorrow or next month or even next year, but what feels like soon. I am not a mover. I've lived in my current home since March 2000. I've never lived with anyone I've dated and haven't had a roommate in over 6 years. All of that is daunting as well, and yet this is like a mock trial. It means waking up and not having to leave the house, not just because there's nowhere to go, no equivalent of the coffeeshop I adore in my neighborhood, but because the work is right here, right in front of me. There's no escaping it (a lie: there is always something I can escape the work with). But whether I'm sitting in my underwear at the dining room table, after long enough that I've stopped marveling that someone even owns and has room for and eats at a dining room table, or in bed in the wee hours, I know that the rest is up to me. Do I want to be a writer, or do I want to be so scared I give up before I start? I've done the latter countless times, and those failures will haunt me until I die. But I've been damn fucking lucky and so many people have given me chances and I'm honored by them, want to live up to them.

Many days I'm not sure what that would even look like. Maybe it's the quiet, the stillness, the lack of plans. Because during my under three hour layover at Charles de Gaulle, in between days and flights, I wrote part of a story that I was sure I'd be so energized I would finish, immediately. Then more days passed and I was listening to Beth Orton and all these wicked possibilities for the story and still, everything else took priority. And now I have to leave tomorrow and it's already daunting, because for me, New York, much as I love it, is not about sitting still all day. Tomorrow it's going to the Bronx and then doing a reading and hope inviting my mom to it wasn't a giant mistake. And in between, I will squeeze in bits of words and blog posts, but there is always something to draw my attention away, perhaps because my attention has always been flighty, perhaps because I don't actually think I can hack this writing thing, not for real, not to live on. And maybe I can't, and that is something I haven't been able to face yet.

I'm pretty sure that instead of checking my bank account over and over and over, I'm supposed to be doing what I can to add to it. Instead of berating myself for a silly, selfish trip, I'm supposed to be pitching pitching pitching, even when it seems like the most futile endeavor ever. Yet, whether it is or not, it's all I have, so I will go back not to the 12 documents I have open, but to one of them, and then the next, and then the book I'm reading to review, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me by Ellen Forney, where she writes, "Art was my blood, my heart, my life." It's a wonderfully written and drawn book but one, I suspect, that if you are at all prone to depression, mania, self-doubt, etc., will be at least a little challenging. She lays so many fears out, boldly, and even reading about Forney reading about all the artists, poets and writers who've suffered from manic depression, seeing so many suicide symbols next to their names, is startling, even when you know that's what you'll find.

I forget that there even if nobody winds up seeing my work, while I need the sales for little things like rent and transportation, what motivates me is the idea, the spark, the first line. Yet those first lines lose their luster if I never finish them, never get to the end. When I do, it's like I've given myself a present. Way too often my mind is so focused umpteen steps after the end that I don't allow myself to block out every bit of extraneous noise and actually get there. But I don't want to turn 37 feeling like this, like I'm worthless and shouldn't even bother. The same kind of faith in the unknown that I'll have to have to leave my home of what will be 14 years by then I need today, to sit down and write it anyway, knowing it's likely nobody will see my words, but that maybe, just maybe, if I'm lucky and persistent and believe in them 100%, not my usual half-assed doubtful pessimistic way, they will.

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