The demons like to feast at the party, too.
By which I mean that my elation for the writing life, my assuredness, my dreaming self, comes quickly shadowed by the voices of doubt. It is not a self-esteem issue. The narrow tube of dark voices is strictly related to the craft of writing. See the confidence of a writer as the landscape, then see the flurries of doubt like the beginning of a snow storm. See the drifts blow to and fro, unpredictable. See life struggle hard as rock beneath it. Sometimes frozen, sometimes enduring.
Here I sit, sipping my tea, my gaze set to the screen and beyond that, ancient ranges of Appalachia and the blazing edges of fall’s turning leaves. Quietly, like sifted flour, questions of value and worth trickle through the narrow tube and enter my frame of mind. Is my subject matter worthwhile? Can I ever produce a book-length manuscript? Do I have anything new to offer the world with my creativity?
Later I sing, with the women I know and love, my gaze turned inward under closed lids, the movement of air and sound like chocolate for the soul. It comes weighted, like sandbags, fatigue with the process, weariness of doubt, an ache for age and experience, all sliding through the narrow tube to find their way out in the shape of a few salt tears. No one notices my sandbag tears when we sing and that is fine. It is easier that way.
The despair has settled thick like molasses for almost two days. Vic tells me to remain steady, to treat worry and doubt like food allergies. Expel. Nourish only what is worthwhile. I haven’t felt this way about the words in, oh god, years.
I don’t know where my place is in writing. I don’t know where my place would be in literature. I don’t know if my dreams are only reflections of my innocence. Or even worse, foolishness. What do I have to offer? What is uniquely mine to give?
This is it. The MFA has got to be about creative crisis as much as it is about creative construction. Tearing down to build up. I’m on lockdown, limbs bucking uselessly at the tiny snowflakes. Not one is like the other. The narrow tube cinches down. I know have to close it off before it closes me off.
Can it really be that the size and scope of my dreams puts me at equal vulnerability for disaster? That the more exposed I am, the more vulnerable? If so, I’ll spend forever bleeding. If not – if the heart and mind have wisdom that can outlive the snow storm – I’ll come out like spring in glorious greens and yellows, rosebud and hickory, aerated spring water and speckled fawn. Laughing, new, alive again.