Writer’s Angst

The writer’s life is simple enough — we write.  We often sit in perfect writing locations with birds chirping spring songs from window sills and poplars swaying ever so gently across verdant fields.  From behind antique windows perched high above craggy cliffs, we stare down at the mighty Atlantic crashing with white winter froth on the serrated rocks below.  Others slave in dank, dark corners away from family and friends — obsessed.  We hunch over paper with pen, typewriter or keyboard, hands shaking like the addict staring at the needle.  We fondle our chosen utensil, hating what we have become, fragile without our fix — and so we write.

We shall not call it war because the empty page and the writer need each other.   While one mocks with its virgin surface, the other desires to scar it with letters and words.  We become lost to the mortal world for years uncountable, while rearranging, shuffling, deleting and eventually, inevitably, falling passionately in love before predictable doubt ruins whatever we dared print on the loathsome, pristine surface.

We suffer pure mockery, not by invisible, unknown critics, or publishers ensconced behind castle walls, or even silent agents, but by the perfection demanded.  As the flawless white sheet is rolled into typewriter, or the scroll of the computer screen with its infinite choices of font and text, or of course, the ever-simple writing pad, oldest of all the mockers, is slowly folded back — our minds hesitate and the inner voice is shrill.  Bring it on!  Damn the mockery.

And there you have it — synchronicity, yin and yang, simpatico — the writer’s life and the tabula rasa.  In love again.  All the while hating each other, laughing at one another, all too often saying the mean word, sharing the nasty thought, always bringing the smile that does not make it into one’s eyes.  Perfection?  No.  Not today — start again.

The writer mulls — crumple it up, flick it into the fire, press the delete button, vanquish it before it does you.  Write the beautiful words, but is it Hemingway? Steinbeck?  Or, as usual, just you.  Meaningless — worthless — tripe!  The writer can’t deny the mocking laughter.  He finds other words to describe, to buffer — contemptuous, derisive, scornful, disdainful, sardonic, but it is always — mockery.

So this is the writer’s life.  Pure ridicule.  Jack London with his six hundred rejections, and yet all his fellow writers know none brought agony like the first words on the blank sheet.

Nevertheless, the budding tale, the boundless narrative, the untold story’s limitless potential calls relentlessly.  In the deep darkness of the night, in the purity of pre-dawn, even before waking, the paper flutters.  Perfection?  Maybe this time.

Only two things dictate the writer’s life, the courage of one’s imagination and the ability to overcome the incessant, inevitable, mocking.  To put word to unspoiled paper, to dare to dent the page and forever remove its inherent perfection.  Only the mocking divides the reader from the writer, a simple thing, yet insurmountable to most, that judgmental prissiness staring back from the silent paper.  Overcome that and the writer’s life blossoms no matter what the season.

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