There the up, then there is the down

Some days I can feel myself running, hotter than a fever. I do not fit into an envelope, curriculum vitae, cover letter, statement of merit, sample syllabi, you-name-it. Like Whitman’s patient spider, I’m sending out filament after filament. Misaimed. Hopelessly floating. Then waiting to get snagged.

It all sounds so unpleasant, and 80% of the job applications I have sent out did not make me catch my breath in my throat, make my heart leap, or make me dream of a new place. (By contrast, all of the fellowships applications did.)

I’m poised at the front door, shoelaces tied, truck engine warming up. I’m rearing back blowing steam, kicking up dust. I’ve earned two residencies for my accomplishments and the challenge remains to somehow save enough money to get myself to AK and VA (a problem I did not forsee, as I was employed when I applied).

I have to tell you that it is so difficult to justify writing a short story when I am sitting broke, quite likely soon-to-be homeless, with an injured wrist I cannot afford to treat (it “squeaks” and it is puffy looking). I have to tell you how agonizing it is to be given a day when you have so much: silence, a story to write, and a mind with which to write it—and then to watch yourself exhale into self-paralysis like a washed up fish on the shores of your own writing studio, overcome by anxiety about the future.

I made it halfway back up the stairs to the writing loft after lunch. Then I sat down, put my chin on my knees. I suppose this is only the beginning of being a writer. To write against all odds, through the absurdity, and into a new truth that makes the air we breath fresh again.

After a time, I rose from my perch. I put one foot in front of the other and continued up the stairs to my writer’s desk. I will not take a vow of poverty, but I will take one of perseverance.

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