The Work of Working Alone

Besides my parents and my fellow karateka, I have not seen other people since I arrived back in NC at 3 a.m. on the 18th. I will not see other humans until the night of the 22nd, when I go to karate class. I suppose this is the stuff or ordinary solitude, the kind of winter I experienced before I left. But I am not the same person I was before the residency, as is always the case with such trips, and now I feel deprived of human interaction. In other words: it’s hard to go from overstimulation to understimulation and the primary method for coping is locking oneself deeper inside one’s own mind.

Today that took the form of writing two pages in six hours. Yes, two pages. Yes, six hours. It was re-envisioning; paring down an old story and bringing it back to life by means of the lyrical essay. When I got stuck, I paced. I sang. I read and read. I checked email. I paced some more. I spoke out loud to myself and pounded my fists at my skull and did lots of yoga poses that involve hanging upside down to invoke a head rush. For now, at least, all of these tasks are part of the task of writing because they help me keep my seat for a little bit longer each time I return to the page.

I believe this is what the next six weeks are going to look like. No work, $300 a month coming in from unemployment (= not much going out), and all the high bars of the thesis semester to live up to. A deep reworking of the best work I’ve ever done. The kind of reshaping that alerts the soul to something deeper, something meaningful, something worth writing about.

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