The Object Lesson: All the running you can do

At some point I’ll have something in here besides these things. A lot of projects are on a kind of hold right now, where things are happening, but nothing concrete enough for me to talk about it explicitly. One anthology I have a story in is waiting on a release, my novelette Hieros is being put through the editing process, and I’m waiting to hear back about a number of things. And I’m working on a number of others.

But in the meantime, here’s something true: I’m afraid to stop writing.

It wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time I just wrote whenever I felt like it, which wasn’t always often. There was a longish period where it pretty much didn’t happen at all, and back then it didn’t especially trouble me. But now I’m afraid to stop. I keep up with my minimum daily wordcounts, I set time aside for writing (usually in the morning these days; not quite sure how that happened), and a lot of it is motivated by a work ethic that I try to cultivate, and a lot of it is motivated by deadlines, but I think a significant portion of it is actually about fear.

I think  a lot of it is, like I just said, there was a time when I didn’t do this all that much, and it didn’t bother me. I didn’t have a stake in it like I do now. And I’m not sure why I have a stake at this point, or where that stake came from, or even what it consists of. All I know is that part of me is afraid–terrified, really–that one morning I’ll wake up and this will be gone, and I’ll be tossed into the Desert of Block, that place that all writers hate and fear. And I’ve been there, except before I had no stake, and so the Desert of Block was nothing in particular to be afraid of.

Now I think it might feel a little bit like losing a body part. Nothing as major as a limb, mind, but maybe a finger or two. Maybe like that.

So I get up and I try to write every day, just to remind myself that I still can, that this thing hasn’t slipped away from me yet. I don’t even really feel like it’s part of me. It came from somewhere external. I feel as though I didn’t invoke it, so logically I can’t control when it leaves again. I know it may not. But I recognize that the odds are that it will, even temporarily, and I’m afraid of that day. Perhaps I think that I can keep it here by keeping it busy. So every day I manage to get the work done, meet the goals I set for myself, and feel like I got there with at least a minimum of style and quality… I consider that a relatively good day. I go to bed feeling a certain amount of relief.

But the next day it starts all over again. I have to prove it and work it and do whatever it takes to keep it here. I expected this to be something I would have to work at. I never expected so much of it to be fear. I really think that’s true, at least for me: writing at its best is equal parts joy and fear, terror and exhilaration. The joy keeps you coming back, but the fear does too. And the fear has teeth.

Whatever motivates, right? Guess so.

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