Writers Write and Other Stupid Cliches That are Hard to Do

Another generic romantic comedy about a scruffy-faced middle-class-but-slumming-it-in-an-apartment-he-still-shouldn’t-be-able-to-afford-freelancing white guy writer who drinks too much and is all raw talent and manic pixie adventuring. And he’s miserable, but still functional, and he finds a girlfriend and stops being miserable, and everything’s okay without him having to put any work in.

And here I am, watching it all, and feeling like I couldn’t be further from that man on the screen, who kisses in the rain and smiles so big he has crow’s feet and types until four in the morning and slams a wrinkled manuscript on the publisher’s desk and ruins his relationships by being a manchild except he’s also charming enough to make it better every single time and drinks whiskey and chainsmokes (but never coughs) and at the end of the day his issues are wrapped up in an hour and a half of him not really having to make an effort at all.

It’s not like that for me. I feel so lonely I think I’m going to die, but I probably won’t die. So I need to love myself enough to get my act together in the meantime. And if the loneliness is forever, if the pit deep in my stomach and the lump in my throat won’t ever go away, at least I’m not lonely and stagnant. At least at the end of my life people will look back and say, “She was sad, and she struggled, but she did good art, and made a few things more beautiful.”

I need to say, “Hey, I got out of bed, what else can I do today?”

Fake it until you make it. Smile like you mean it. Writers write. Every day I miss how passionate I was about writing in college, how easy it was then when I had deadlines, classes to attend. When I was devouring book after book after book, hungrily listening to lectures. When I had a community of passionate writers around me, and we all believed in ourselves, or if we didn’t, we trusted that other people believed in us. There was something romantic about it then. I had potential and possibility. Eight years later, I don’t have the hope I used to have. Eight years later, I feel like a failure. Eight years later, my loneliness is a coat I wear that I can’t take off, and it’s stifling me. I have at least six half-finished manuscripts that I’m too scared to touch, because what if I’m not good? Nine months ago I released my second book and I still have tiny edits I want to make before I finalize my hard copy; when am I going to do that? And what am I so afraid of– actually, that’s not a rhetorical question, I’m afraid that I suck and that everyone knows and isn’t telling me.

I can’t depend on external structure, no matter how disorganized I am. I can’t expect a superhero to swoop down and make it better. I can’t expect kisses in the rain and easy fixes to the plot holes. I can’t expect anyone to love me. And I can’t wait for that magic sky secretary to swoop down and get my affairs in order. I can’t wait for Mary Poppins; I’m not a precocious British child I’m a grown-ass woman who’s afraid to make an effort.

I have to pull myself up by my bootstraps, even though that saying is stupid because how can you pull yourself up by your own bootstraps? How can you have the leverage to lift yourself off the ground by your shoes? I need to exercise. I need to read. I need to hydrate. I need to remember my anti-anxiety meds. I need to write. I need to pretend like I care until I care. So here I am. Pretending. And hydrating. And medicating. And exercising. And writing. And reading. And maybe, one day, caring again.