Thursday, May 10, 2012

i had a moment where complete despair felt like a viable option

I've been writing this blog since 2008. I've been writing since I was 5 years old. I cannot say that writing is my favorite thing to do anymore than I could say that my hands are my favorite things to use to open doors. Writing is the most natural and authentic extension of myself into the world that I claim, outside of mothering my children.  I have set out to be many things and let go of all of them: model, college student, medical transcriber, speech therapist and once in my very early twenties I almost accepted a job modeling lingerie at a steakhouse. Despite my fierce intellectual attempts to be detached from imposed moralities, I could not tell the woman in the dressing room that yes, I would love to model the pink zebra striped three piece set for monied customers starting next Friday night. I write not because it is any one thing, I write because it is what I do.  'Working hard' at writing was a concept that came late to me, unlike many of my high school newspaper column writing friends, I could not stand to write about the games, SAT classes, the use of school funds at rallies or what computer programs would be beneficial for college. I felt a physical repulsion to using words for structured, emotionless communications. Sick to my stomach and feeling a high excitement known to teenagers across the world, I would hide out in all my classes and write poetry in my mind, short stories, exposes of friends before I knew what an expose was.  Glancing at a human face brought and brings clusters of words across their defining features, clusters that form into sentences and phrases that I hear repeated in my mind: high and unforgiving arch to the roof of her mouth, where she imagined a penis would thump when looking for a more warm and inviting claim / dominance, he knew, was the theme of this man- look at his eyebrows! they were repulsive but clearly in control / her freckles stuck together in miserable clumps across the top lip / i knew i wouldn't like you because you have your brother's ears   

I suppose this is the inner dialogue of a writer. It has always been my reality. If I don't write these things down, I feel sick. If I feel sick, I'm even more neurotic than necessary. So I write. And I feel ... better. I feel how I imagine a mathmatician feels when the numbers all fall together and the path toward a solution suddenly lies clear and beautifully obvious. I have always wanted to write for a living because writing is the only thing I have ever done for any period of time that does not leave me heavy with feeling that I am doing the wrong thing. I am half disgusting sentimentalist and half reductive pragmatic, so it must be the sentimental part of me that believes I am going to be allowed to do what makes me feel whole, for a living.

A belief I have not only held but actively fought for since 2008. Not only continuous and relentless writing in many forms, but actively pursuing promotion and payment. * 

I left my day job, as you know. I have had moments of pure self hatred since. I have four children. I HAVE FOUR CHILDREN. I left for my child. I could have stayed for the same reason. What motivates one person to another and why cannot always be fully understood, but we have to trust our own motivations...or perish in miserable emotion and self doubt. So I have prayed. And gotten four hours of sleep a night, but still, I fought to have faith. While I was in that metaphorical rowboat in the middle of the ocean,  I fought to stay afloat. I have been spending every second I can, when not at work, applying for work. And day after day, nothing.

Not one single email.

Writers before me had the empty mailbox. I have the empty inbox. It is the most depressing list: email after email, none of them related to writing or a job.

And I felt that I might have been wrong forever. I felt the things we feel: ashamed, forlorn, lonely, abandoned, miserable, rejected, dejected, stupid, talentless. I thought maybe I have been a god awful, terrible writer all these years, and I am just such a colossal idiot that I Have No Idea. I suddenly hated all my friends with a passion and went to my email to send them furious and hurt emails about how friendship is based on being honest, and if they couldn't tell me I was no good, I couldn't be their friends anymore.

And in my inbox was the blinking light of a writing job.

Tomorrow, that job could disappear. It's not supposed to, I don't think it will, but these things happen. But my crisis of faith is gone. I realized the crisis was not as much about my talent or lack of, but about my belief, acquired mostly in adult life, through reading, that hard work pays off eventually.
If this job disappears, the clarity and faith it restored will not. I will persist. I will work hard. I will work harder than that. This job doesn't pay enough so that I can do it and it alone- not even close!-but It. Pays. It pays in the message.


Just make sure that the next time I freak out like this, I get another job. Or I won't believe, and I won't clap, and all the fairies will drop dead.

* that was this post

Tania said...

The fairies ain't gonna drop dead. I believe. I really do.

Caroline said...

Our worst enemy is self-doubt. I know this enemy all too well and she lies to us and hurts us in so many ways. What you have accomplished here (besides the paying job) is the conquering of the creative person's nemesis.

Not too long ago, you helped me conquer a period of self-doubt too. And your loving reminder that my work was worth it helped to keep me going. xo

LOVE you and I am SO happy for you.

37paddington said...

Maggie, you were born to write. That's why you feel sick when you don't do it. Nature wants to make sure you keep writing. We need it. We need you.

You already have a book on this blog. Choose 25 posts and compile then and send them off to a publisher, or agent. Send them to a big name editor. Send them.

The problem with having to make a living is that it blocks us from being able to do things like put that book together, because we don't have the time or the clarity in the moment. I wish I could come through this computer and edit that book for you, picking and choosing the posts to include. The riches. The riches. You should win a pultizer and I'm not even kidding.

Do not berate your friends. If they told you you weren't any good, they would be lying to you.

Anonymous said...

I simply adore you.

Anonymous said...

Oh Maggie, what an awesome post! It's stuff like this that compels me to keep reading your words, because it's so REAL! And you and I seem to be leading parallel loves at the moment, re. jobs and money and writing and babies. Your strength and conviction and commitment to your children has helped me see the way forward in my situation. Keep writing. You are extraordinary!

mosey (kim) said...

I believe. I believe. I believe.

Petit fleur said...

Congratulations! This will lead to more and more opportunities. You'll see.


Colleen Lanin at Travel Mamas said...

I have been there. We all have - writers or not. Keep the faith, sister!

starrlife said...

Hugs..... FYI- For me I can' find a place to leave comments when I am only on the post I'm reading. However, when I go to your main blog page and scroll to the post I want... voila.. there is a place to make comments.
You are in a difficult place and I am so sorry. As they say, one bad apple. What about taking kids in to your house for care? Is that hard in your state?

previous next