There is a fantasy every writer has which is to have a few months of uninterrupted time so that he may complete his masterwork or kick start his career. I’ve been teased by this notion frequently and this year it appeared I would have the chance. The circumstances of this opportunity were less than convenient and should have indicated to me that this would remain a fantasy.
We moved here at the end of February as Donna’s mother was unable to care for herself or live alone. It was this or she’d have to go into a nursing home which we knew would mean a further decline in her health. Aside from that, it stunk to have to leave a decent job without a new one, the state of the economy considered. A friend called during that time to informally invite me to his April wedding. I expressed the tentative nature of my attendance. He hoped I’d have a job by then. I didn’t think it would be a problem.
April came, the situation no different. I looked forward to seeing old pals but also thought maybe on my holiday I’d write that great American novel. The inspiration was there but so were all these people I needed to catch up with. Back home, the mail delivered the bad news that I had not been selected. Compulsively, I watched my email rise from 6482 to 6483 over and over again. Nothing. Somehow I didn’t qualify, even for simple desk jobs. I became more anxious and lowered my expectations. I had hoped completion of my MAR would open doors, but it wouldn’t right away.
Mary spent May in the hospital. It seemed very plausible that she might not come home at all. Simultaneously, Donna’s grandmother fractured her hip and experienced worsening dementia. Acting on Mary’s behalf, and in accord with her sister, we saw after her and would have to move Grandma into assisted living. We sought to get the house in working order, a condition it had not been in for years due to Mary’s illness.
I contacted an established writer friend for advice. I had talked with other such friends before but with his response I had more of a game plan. He advised me to build my internet presence. I reviewed the guidelines, once more, for Relevant. I spent a week and wrote an article about a friend’s loss of faith.
I am more likely to dismiss what I write than to praise it. That being said, I thought it was a mere matter of their reviewing my submission. Two weeks passed. I got the email. They couldn’t use it. I had put so much into writing something for free, I had given my best, and they couldn’t use it. I didn’t know where to go from there. Obviously, quitting wasn’t a viable option but I did think about it. What if this whole idea, of being a writer, had been a grand delusion fed to me by teachers and parents that would only serve to distract me from what I really ought to be doing? Blah.
After taking a few days to sulk, I spent the next week writing “The Problem of Seth Rogen’s Pain”, an article whose thesis my research would prove false. I tried to rethink it, but realized that this would result in an entirely different essay. It seemed all to be in vain. I knew my approach was inherently backwards and ineffective. Six months had yielded very little fruit. I had to find a better way.
This fantasy has come up repeatedly for me and I continue to buy into it. To do the fantasy in, I’ve found it most helpful to have close contact with reality. Even if I do write something great, it may not be good enough. They may not be able to use it. My determination is not sufficient. I can’t say if anything will ever come from this, but here I am regardless.