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Monday, January 28, 2013

No stories available

Last night, before trying to sleep, when there were no more Words with Friends games waiting for me, I was wasting time on the site that's best for it, Facebook. I was looking at kid photos of someone I don't even know, because that's what I do when it's 1 in the morning, and I kept clicking and clicking and eventually I got these three words: "No stories available." It was such a perfect metaphor for how I've been feeling, about my life, about writing, about everything. There's been so much inertia that I can't seem to even muster up the courage to call the doctor I think will give me some Vyvanse and get me back to creating again.

But then I fell into a fitful sleep and woke up at 3 and wondered if there would be TEDxBroadway tickets available (that would be no, I later found out) and decided I'd try to stay up. And lo and behold, there was a story idea, as I lay in the dark, rearranging my pillows, and the framework of that story and the title fell into place almost magically. I took a real scenario of someone I know and tweaked it to my needs and now my job is to write it and put it in my short story collection. That felt like such a huge gift, and reminded me that all the stories I tell myself about how horrible a person I am, how irresponsible, stupid, idiotic, etc., are just that: stories. Sometimes I believe them so wholeheartedly I just want to lie in bed for weeks or months. The idea of getting on a plane or a train or in a care or even walking a block seems like way too much for me to deal with. The monumental task of getting my life from New York to my new home makes me want to torch everything, the sentimental with the shlock, the worthless with the precious. I have four months but it feels like four hours. It also feels like the more I do, the more there is to do, but what/s' the alternative? I know how freeing it will be to escape the mess, literal and figurative, but I also know it's one of those has to get worse before it gets better situations. More accurately, it's been worse, the worst, for many years, and I've had to ignore it to do anything other than be a female Collyer brother. Now I'm facing all of it, and myself, and it's hard to realize how much I haven't done, all the books I bought and didn't read, all the clothes I never wore, all the things I once wanted to do and didn't. But I don't want the big dreams I have to be things I never do, just because I was scared or daunted or didn't know the outcome ahead of time.

That's how writing feels a lot of the time, like why bother starting? Maybe it'll be just like TEDxBroadway where I didn't buy my ticket fast enough and missed out. But then I remember that even though I'm inside on this snowy day, cozy with coffee, not with theater folks, I have plenty of stories to tell, and plenty to be grateful for. It hasn't felt like I do for a while now, but I'm getting there, slowly. Maybe I don't have a story available every day, but I think if I dig deep enough, I'll find that they are there, they just aren't always pretty or nice. I may look like the monstrous person I sometimes am, because shiny perfect I'm awesome stories are deadly dull and nobody wants to buy them, or read them, including me. I'm hoping this month ends on a high note, because it certainly didn't start that way. January is not my favorite month, but even last January was full of extreme highs and extreme lows, and I made it through it. So today as much as it goes against my natural inclination, I'm going to focus on what's right in front of me, where I am, rather than where I'm not, knowing that if I don't like where or who I am, it's my job, and mine alone, to change it.

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