So this month a lot has been happening, but unlike other bouts of what Hemmingway calls the “death loneliness that comes at the end of every wasted day of your life,” my inspiration has only been growing and fueling my writing, not sapping it. What’s that? You’ve seen bugger-all that’s new? Sorry. I swear its coming.
The happiest thing that happened and the first priority in my life is that my wife is feeling better than she has for a long time. We hit on a good vitamin and electrolyte regimen, and her nerves seem to be healing well. I am pretty sure it is not wishful thinking, since she is slowly picking up remote work and recovering a lot of stamina. There are still bad days. There are days I burn completely being on call, and worrying about my wife’s spasms when I should be writing. But more often than not she’s feeling strong enough to argue with me, which is a dubious pleasure but one that fills me with a deep gladness that I think only truly happily married men experience. Despite everything, she’s still the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
An update on motorcycle maintenance. Because of the very cold weather, I haven’t gotten the gumption to work on my Ducati Monster. My fingers freeze in my drafty rented garage, but i managed to prop her up, clean her chain, and prepare other things for the big strip-down. Legitimately, with work and domestics and writing and caregiving, I can’t give the bike the attention it needs. But I think mostly it’s that I’m procrastinating.
I think that’s because the Monster is something where success is completely dependent on me actually doing it, and not like all the other things that involve other people. So long as I don’t buckle down and fix the Monster, its still completely mine. But the instant she hits the asphalt roaring, that opens the door to people judging her. What I settled on because of budget, the quality of the rebuild, her relative age, everything that I felt was me suddenly being out there for people to tear apart. Maybe literally, if they don’t check their blind spot.
And I’m deeply afraid of that right now. There’s just so much judgment in my life. My family judging my marriage, my work judging my writing when I’m judging myself for prostituting it to make a living. So much isn’t mine to control that half the time I want to burn it all down. The other half wants to cower in a blanket fort. For an introvert to constantly feel this way is kind of a Jungian hell: the featureless room is just always with me. A constant social pressure that I always have to go back to, because if I don’t I won’t be able to preserve the things I care about, like my wife.
Which brings me to my writing, a source of great therapy and great disappointment both. My wife says my output is slightly behind Stephen King’s, even though the published portion is small, and that at my age he was in the same place. My editor humored my sudden burst of insecurity with some incredibly kind words. But at the end of the day my writing doesn’t put food on the table, and barring an incredible stroke of luck, won’t do so for a long time. Authors take a huge plunge when they choose to support their craft full-time. But it’s not just my life I’m gambling, so I can’t do that.
So every weekend I open my garage door. I find some small thing to do to the Monster. Then I go back inside and I work on my own writing as much as I can. Inevitably I’ll have to return to my other duties, but for a couple hours I can feel like my life is my own again, even if it doesn’t have any physical return. It’s got meaning, which is as sustaining as food. I sit at my laptop (new chromebook now, so I can do more on the train) and I crank out new stuff. Short stories, new novels. Ideas that may never see the light of day, but its material I feel compelled to make. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find meaning in it too.