“burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night”–Allen Ginsberg
“Only connect.”–E. M. Forster
Dear angelheaded hipsters and other readers,
Sometimes I feel like I’m writing into the aether, hemorrhaging words into a void. The internet is funny that way. Supposedly we’re all so connected now, though the connection often feels more like static.
Sometimes, when I’m working on a novel, I feel like I’m standing alone on the brink of a canyon, shouting into the abyss. Writing is at once a unifying and a solitary pursuit. Like the essence of our lives–which only we can live, by ourselves–writing is something we do alone, hoping that it will end in connection.
Sometimes I walk into a bookstore and feel tears prick at the backs of my eyes. There are so many books. It’s overwhelming. I wonder if there will be a place for mine, if my stories are worth telling, if someone else will tell them first and better. The preposterousness of this endeavor strikes me with the force of a blow to the stomach, the kind that leaves you gasping for air your lungs refuse to take in. Who am I to think that I can write?
Maybe this is what happens when you love words too much. When your mind is an occupied territory stories, characters, strange lands, other writers’ words in constant dialogue with each other. Maybe this is what happens when you feed on stories, when what sustains you and keeps you sane are the threads that run from one life to another, one place to another, tying scraps of meaning together until the small and the meaningless ignite in a tapestry of wonder and revelation.
If there is a pattern emerging from the warp and weft of this blog, it is connection. After all, that’s what we as writers long for. That’s the endgame. That’s the moment of clarity flung up from the depths of our dark and solitary hours to sparkle in the sun.
The road to a career as a writer is a daunting one, full of perils, and for me the greatest of them is despair. It’s easy to lose heart. Sometimes the long dark nights of the soul turn into long dark days, weeks, or even months. It’s easy to forget that anyone’s listening.
And then, someone says, “Hey, I read your blog!” and I think, “People read this?” Or someone whose brilliance I admire says, “That was a good post,” and I think, “It’s possible that I am not a complete and utter failure!” Or someone says, “I’ve been following your blog,” and I think, “Please don’t tell my mom I wrote something about boobs.” (She’s not online. I was raised in the wild by a pack of Luddites.)
Anyway, what I’m trying to say in my usual rambling, semi-coherent way, is that I am profoundly grateful to you. For reading (I know there are a lot of memes and LOLcats out there demanding your attention, as well as gobs of truly excellent writing). For taking the time to leave your precious words as comments (yes, your words are precious. I love them. I hoard them and curl up on them and take them out to admire their shininess and I devour the nasty dwarves and hobbitses of time and memory that try to steal them away). For sharing. For speaking kindness that illuminates the long dark nights.
Thank you for reading this. Thank you for this moment of connection that reminds me of what truly matters.