… I told you that …
And here’s where my effort to create an analogy for you breaks down. Because I don’t know you. I don’t know what it is that you have tried to fill your life with. I don’t know what the thing is that you have found that fulfills you, makes you feel something close to whole — because that’s all you want, something close to whole, because if you could find that, that would be good enough because being completely whole is like being perfect and you know that perfect is impossible.
I don’t know what that thing is.
I know this though. I thought I had found it.
And I know this too. Kevin Brennan touches on the problem here.
If there’s one thing I know it’s that I am a searcher. I have regularly described my quest for the thing that will motivate me and keep me interested and make me happy with my life. Learning the guitar, cooking, baking, gardening, my kids, this and that. It’s all been a never-ending … search … for fulfillment and … a solution to my quest for happiness.
I thought I found it almost fifteen years ago. A lifetime of being a voracious reader led me to the idea that I, one day, wanted to try to write a novel. My father wrote a number of books on the techniques and craft of writing that were published. And some manuscripts for novels that were never published. When I read his manuscripts I was intrigued by the idea.
For years, I pondered the idea of a novel. I’d come up with an opening line, an opening paragraph, an opening scene … and then flail around at the idea of what came next.
Until one day I outlined a novel in my head on my drive home from work. That outline turned into One Night in Bridgeport. And another novel. And dozens of short stories. For about eight years, or maybe ten years, I became a writer. Whenever I completed a story or a larger writing project, I would tell my wife that I wanted to take a break but I didn’t know if I could. I was a writer and I had all of these stories bursting forth. My wife would nod knowingly and let it go. I would start a new story the next day.
I even began to think that when people asked me what I did, who I was, I would answer “writer” rather than “attorney.” Because the reality is that “attorney” has never been about who I am at my very core. It is only the thing I did so that I could make a better life for myself and then, once tbey came along, my wife and children.
So, I wrote … while my kids played out front. While they splashed in the pool. I wrote. In the evenings, when I only had an hour or so, I wrote. On weekends, in the in between moments. I occasionally took what I referred to as a writing vacation. A weekend away from the family and the home and an opportunity to just write for a day or two.
After those first two novels, I started a third … and got bogged down. I moved on to a fourth … and got bogged down. Moved on to a fifth … and got bogged down.
As I write this, I have at least four, maybe five half completed stories of novel length. I ponder them on almost a daily basis. I am convinced they have the potential to be really good stories that would have an audience. Maybe of five. Maybe of five thousand. Maybe five hundred thousand.
I don’t know though. What I do know is this.
Every time I think of committing to finishing one of those works in progress, I read what I have written. I get excited about the idea of finishing the story and putting it out there. Maybe I’ll search for an agent or a traditional publisher. I want to see it to its end — whatever that is.
And once I finish the reading of what’s already been written and begin to think about the writing of the rest … well, you know … there’s the yard work. And the run. And cooking dinner for the family. And the nap. And weeks go by.
And the other thing I know is this.
Back when I was doing a lot of writing, I could come up with a lot of ideas for short stories. In the in between moments of novel writing, I never failed to come up with an idea for a short story to write — to keep the creative juices flowing, to explore different ideas for how to tell a story. Now? The short story idea factory has dried up as well.
I never wrote another story again.
I think of that and look at the last couple of years as I’ve struggled with this writing thing and I know a few things.
Part of this is that I am mentally and emotionally and intellectually drained by other things. Work. Family dynamics. Things. The this and the that of my human existence. And the last thing I need at the end of the day is something that saps me of a little more of that energy. And that’s the truth of the matter — writing takes energy. And I’ve got no more energy to give far more often than I’d like. I need easy distractions and minimization of the demands on my psyche. Writing doesn’t necessarily fit into that need.
And there’s this other thing. I can’t tell my internal editor to shut the fuck up and until I can figure out how to do that, there’s really no point because that damn internal editor keeps telling me that whenever I put a few words together, it is total crap. So, yeah, anybody got some magic gas that can shut that guy up?
So, there’s this piece of me that wants to just put a halt to this idea of writing. For a couple more years. Until I retire from that job that drains me of so much.
What if …
I never wrote another story again?
Would that be so bad?
Maybe it’s time to search for something else.