In the middle of the Dark Years, when nothing I was writing was being read, I would occasionally threaten to quit writing altogether. “I will just quit it if things don’t turn around,” I told my wife. “Really?” she asked. “And then what would you do?”
“I don’t know, but this ridiculous. I mean what’s the fricking point?”
“I get it, but what else would you do?”
It was a maddeningly unanswerable question. I was suffering. I knew this as certainly as I knew I was tired at the end of my day or thirsty after a run. But while I could sleep when tired or drink when thirsty, the power to end this suffering appeared to rest in other people’s hands. It was an unacceptable arrangement, a slave and slave master arrangement. More than to have my work read, I wanted to be free. I wanted my life to be my own.
Which is why I would threaten to quit from time to time. It was a suicidal choice, but sometimes it’s necessary to march yourself to that cliff if only ask, “Who’s making you do anything? Who’s making you breath and eat?” To take that leap is to remember the truth at last, as you fall freely into the unknown.
I’ll never be free from the unknown anymore than I can be free from blank pages. Those blank pages are my dependably unwritten future. They were also the answer to my wife’s question. When I wondered what else I would do, I perceived only a blank page, an unknown awaiting my attention, and the moment I stepped willingly into it, my life was my own again.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.