Failing

Didn’t sleep. Can’t stand this phase where nothing I write is good. Slept in between panic at the thought of having to complete a book by next year.

Why is it that now writing is a stress? Why is it that now, my form of self-mutilation is forced study? If I don’t write something “good” then that’s cause for self-doubt and criticism. If I can’t write, then I shouldn’t sleep. I shouldn’t leave the room for days.

All of this. It’s consuming. I feel like I did, halfway up the mountain, when I was sick, throwing up from the cramping of muscles around my stomach, bees in my lungs, ache in every bone. I wanted to lie down, but the rest of my group said “get up, keep walking.” I looked at the dirt. Took each step in anger. Forced myself to feel all of the pain in my body like it was sweetness. Like I could master something if I could master this pain. And didn’t the pain tell me I was alive? And so, each step I’d want to cry out, to lie down and give up. But somewhere inside me I thought, no, you don’t deserve to feel the absence of this pain, you haven’t finished. You have shown nothing.

And so, when we finally reached the top, I thought I’d feel relief. I thought I’d feel a swelling of pride.

Instead, I stood, surveyed the stillness and thought, out of all this, I am nothing, fleeting.

I think I fainted.

But it was finding my smallness that was the gift. Not that I had climbed the mountain, but that I could finally see how small I was. And though perhaps I should have felt discouragement, I felt comfort. Because somehow, I was there. Even if I fail at everything I set out to do, I existed. It was letting go, I think, of expecting a win, a prize, with accomplishment. I didn’t feel joy at the summit. I only felt small. Sometimes, that’s exactly how we need to feel.

I wrote this at four in the morning:

Other Voices

I want to lock myself in a room for days upon days, like a monk with his scroll or ancient book. I want to sleep for only an hour and wake with pain in my bones, teeth that crack and a heart that cannot help but stutter. I want lines to roll down my chest, lines of text. To have nothing to consume but the thoughts of others more brilliantly laid out than my own, so I can be humbled, hour after hour, about how the world is more beautiful than I could describe. Days of this. Days of trying to write and failing, days of other people’s voices. Days where I get lost enough in the wooded words and rinsed metaphors that nothing seems perfect, or placed just so, or called out correctly. Where time loses its tick. Where I no longer want to write, because nothing I’ve written says something new.

Then, release me somewhere. Silence. Stillness. I cannot hear their voices. The Babel Tower has fallen. Then, I may have something to say.

But to You, I’d ask, what does it matter now?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Failing

  1. ComePassion

    The worst part of writing, especially if it’s something long, is not knowing whether it’s junk or not. Reading it over and over makes you numb to the words, their effect, and you begin to lose the ability to see things as your reader might. Or at least, that’s what happens to me. Don’t kill yourself, though, or else you will get stressed out and end up with a hyperactive thyroid and have to swallow radioactive material!

  2. ComePassion

    Like I could master something if I could master this pain.

    Yes.

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