The Fat of It

“It’s a solo sport,” my advisor tells me about the writing life. This, in response to my observation that sometimes I feel near the edge of insanity. “It doesn’t get any easier,” another faculty member said with a Cheshire cackle.

There’s only one way to do this; all or nothing. Creativity is that giant banana split the size of a front door, the one you fantasized about as a kid. You want it, bad, so bad. But it’s big – almost too big to even attempt – so you enlist giants for friends. The greats. Didion. Kittredge. Steinbeck. Fuller. Hemingway. They fashion a spoon for you that’s the size of a well and suddenly you’re in the thick of it, hot fudge sauce dripping down your neck, peanuts falling out of your pockets, strands of banana clumped in your hair. Life is sweet and full time and always on all sides of you.

Sometimes you wake up hung over from the sugar-words, their imminent sweetness. You consider being a painter or a potter. Something – anything – that involves tactile adding and subtracting so that the space of creating doesn’t have to happen in the confines of your own skull. Clay things can rattle and shake. It’s hard to do that with your own head for a sustained period of time.

The temptation to stray is great yet paradoxical. Socializing becomes difficult yet necessary for survival. You have to get out of the house. Walk. Talk. Find espresso. Find someone to kiss.

It’s a solo sport. For four days I have spoken more words to myself than to others. I have eaten half the planet.


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