November

I’m sitting here in a poorly lit, empty kitchen and have no idea what it is I want to write. I just know something’s got to come free, come a little loose and it may make it easier to breathe or not at all, and it may make it easier to look forward to the coming days, to have some kind of hope, or not at all. Or it may just break forth from me and exist in this word space that has grown with me and kept my stories. And frankly, that will be enough, or so I hope.

What a time. What a moment. I fear that if I sum it all up and declare, ‘What a year,’ I either diminish all that has happened into a heavy phrase that doesn’t come close to what it has cost us and of course, I also stand to lose sight of the good things – and there have been –  in between. So I really do not know. I have been exhausted. The kind of tired that has everything to do with the body wanting to give up; but most days, it has been the kind of tired that is heavy, lingers on the tongue without calling itself out, fills and fills up a room until it is its own presence, strong, seeking, and opening the hungry mouth of the unknown. Here comes the plunge of self-sabotage and pity and loneliness. And I am not proud to have walked into it knowing it can and would consume me. Knowing my own tendencies to cleave to that which seeks to break me- even mentally.

I have felt and been burdened by the kind of tired that goes on too long, dragging through my days, sapping me of everything. And I have wondered how much longer I will carry it, or have it repeatedly strike me down the way it does. It’s been hard.

Somewhere within all this seemingly harrowing season, believe it or not, I know I am not leaving myself poised on the edge of a cliff. Any expectation, even mine, of leaving/going away/drowning/letting go and giving up will not be fulfilled. Never mind the scarring of the world. Never mind the perpetual wheel of fear that turns and turns. I must urge myself towards light.

And for this living, I want to be present and kind. To feel and make something and give something. I don’t want to tire of giving, I know that. But perhaps I ought to be careful. Of what, I do not know. I just know I feel a commitment to the act of service and attached to that commitment is this nerve of fear that there will come a time when I can’t do that which I have set out to do. And a break in this kind of generosity will trouble me, because of the lack thereof. But I digress. Although on the subject of fear, I do want to say I worry I have no idea what I’m doing. And that someday, someone will find me out. They’ll drag me out from the crowd, and I won’t have a defense or explanation because they would be right.

I remember a Zoom call that took place months ago. There were four writers. We were asked to talk about ourselves, about anything else we do beside write. And I remember how that worried me for a brief second because this is all I know. I don’t feel bad about it but now it’s like, if we take away your words, your language, what do you have? And I’m going to sit there mute and small. And they’ll know this is me. They’ll know all there is to know. I think that’s very scary to think about.

I should go to sleep now. I’ve been reading. He has gone to be with the women by Benjamin Alire Sáenz is such a good story, I think. Only because I was like ‘wow’ at the end. Only a good story can do that! I also like the dialogue, not a fan of the foul language he leaves around but there’s some great conversations in there. I hope some day I can write so strongly and lyrically like Li-Young Lee and Ocean Vuong. I’m reading Toni Morrison’s The Source of Self-Regard and I’m just amazed by the wealth of knowledge in these essays. And of course, I love her thoughts on language and this writing life that propels me, moves me, affords me the space stutter and fracture and mend and make whole

Be it grand or slender, burrowing, blasting or refusing to sanctify; whether it laughs out loud or is a cry without an alphabet, the choice word, the chosen silence, unmolested language surges toward knowledge, not its destruction

Toni Morrison

I suppose I not only want to make of my writing something extraordinarily useful, I also want to make it good. I want to work at the language, turn it on all sides and find something. I want an astonishing command over this powerful tool, and I do not want to sleep on this urgent impulse, this compulsion, under any circumstance. It is what I want after all.

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