There is Nothing Left to Do

Forewarning and fair warning that this week’s post likely won’t apply much to our readers who are professional writers, in whatever fashion or form. Assuming, though, that even the hardiest of pros still writes some of the time out of love for the craft and the art there might yet be something in the following for everyone, we hobbyists and you blessed golden pencilers alike. If not, well, these musings won’t take up too much of your time, and who’s to say that all diversions are all bad all the time? Not me, not now. At any rate, let’s dive in.

Projects have a way of taking over, and as we who write on the side know there can be stretches when there is simply very little left to be taken over – not enough remains after a day’s long slog at X in order to Y because Z just won’t leave you alone. (Paul looked at the issue more or less from this angle a startling seven and a half years ago, and as far as I’m aware not much has changed since then.) Projects, however, also have a way of taking over that leaves resentment as the furthest thing from our minds, replaced instead by the pure joy of doing and of being so fully absorbed in the doing that all else oh-so-willingly drops away, blissfully released and forgotten – for the moment, at least. Sessions like that are the reason we still get out of bed in the morning, why we stubbornly cling to an activity as vastly unrewarding (in an external sense) as writing is, and stay as the impetus to not only see the thing through but also the next thing and the thing following that. Creativity, flow, story building, characters coming alive, the joys of conjuring up whole cosmoses from nothing but one’s silly, frilly head. If there’s food in your belly and a reasonable assurance of keeping it that way then writing, and its beautiful opportunities of expression, is one line dance we relish falling into step with. Don’t stop the music, not yet.

It does, of course, sooner or later have to stop. That can feel frustrating, that can feel maddening, particularly when everything is going well and all that we want to do is simply keep at it, keep typing, keep reflecting, keep producing. In those instants when the real world with its malicious clock opens its maw and bares its gleaming sharp demands at us what is the writer forced to live in two spheres to do? How to cope? How to remain at peace when want conflicts so severely with need? Perspective, I think, is our only salvation. We all wish that we were Italians in some near and/or possible future where a livable income is guaranteed and we stand free to pursue our chosen art with abandon, yet the vagaries of fate being what they are very few of us will fit that bill. Reality, destiny, all the goods and bads of it, all the ups and downs. Salvation? Just this: we are already saved, we are already there, because for us, for we who write only and ever out of love as the money-chains that bind us have been forged elsewhere, there is nothing left to do. There are no deadlines, no demands, no risks of missing payments or deferrals. We write at our leisure and can continue to do so ad infinitum for to us it is purely and simply only that – leisure, nothing more and nothing less. Two words today, ten tomorrow, three thousand the day after tomorrow. None of it makes a lick of difference in any sense except in how it makes us feel. Once that is realized, once that is embraced, the emotion itself smooths out, tranquilizes, relaxes and folds into a happy medium of “everything is fine”. My writing is first and foremost for me, a part of the person I am and the manner of being I’ve chosen. For you too, I think, and in that we have given ourselves a most wonderful gift: an avocation that, like any good one, is as challenging as it is allowed to be – all things considered and all constraints taken into account. No pressure, just pleasure.


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