The creeping, creeping bar

high jump It is Sunday.

Late in the week, late in the day. For lady-reasons I won't get into, I've dramatically reduced my caffeine intake of late so it seems even later. And then there was that falafel for lunch, that pizza and beer for dinner. They didn't do much to perk me up and put me in a writin' mood.

There was also that vacation last week. Holy crap, that vacation. Which was great and wonderful and inspiring and realigning and all that good stuff, but did nothing for my work ethic. If anything, it drop-kicked it into the toilet and flushed twice (the cafeteria's a long way away, as the saying goes.)

But let's put food and rest and chemical imbalance out of the way, shall we? Because we know, or I do, and you will shortly, that none of these things are to blame for my reduced output of late, either here or elsewhere.

It's success, pure and simple.

For whatever reason, I've had a good run lately here on el bloggito. Not that anything's felt particularly good while I'm writing it, to the contrary, I've trembled the last few times I hit the "publish" button because I've wondered whether it was too: too angsty, too revealing, too showy, too plain, too revealing, too remote. And yet I've been getting some of the best feedback I've ever gotten, or gotten in a row. So what do you do for an encore when the medium demands one Two days? Week? Two weeks?

It's this damned competitive streak in me, is what it is. Even when there's no one to compete against, I compete against myself. A good speech or meeting or job can't just be enjoyed for what it is, not when it's really and truly good. Instead, it becomes the new yardstick by which all subsequent things will be judged. Especially the next one. A few times this past month, I have literally said a little prayer of thanksgiving that I did not meet with huge success in my youth, in Hollywood, in wherever. Few people have the head for it, and I'm not one of them. My head is so damned big naturally, it threatens to take over all the screen real estate available, at least vertically (moon-faced, I'm not.)

Of course, the flip side of big ego is no ego. All good or no good. There is precious little enjoyment of the "all" when you are intimate with the "no". "No" always lurks quietly in the background, ready to take you out with one swift, silent swoop of the baseball bat. And the higher the bar gets, the better you do, the worse the fear.

Some people, as I understand it, do not live with this. Good for you! Seriously, I would wish this on no one. It's mine to deal with, and the dealing with has gotten easier overall as time has worn on.

Still, there's that next job. That next speech. That next blog post. It shouldn't matter, it doesn't matter, really, not a whit, but there it is.

So it was with a heavy heart that Guilt and I made our usual way to the library on Friday. Another week, another seven days without those three chapters written. (That speech. That @#&* blog post.) We wandered to the new arrivals section and there were a few slim volumes of interest: that book Nora Ephron wrote about her neck, another from Walter Mosley about writing, period. We grabbed the first for schadenfreude and the second for instructions.

And the very first instruction?

The first thing you have to know about writing is that it is something you must do every day, every morning or every night, whatever time it is that you have.

Nothing new here, folks. The man is right. "There's no time to wait for inspiration." This sitting around fretting is as much a waste of good time as watching television. And we know how I feel about that.

This post may not be my best. Nor the next. Nor, sadly, the next 50. I may never, ever write a story as compelling as those I've already written. It's a risk I will have to take, every time I sit down to write again. I may suck, you may disappear, the best may all be behind us.

That does not relieve me, or you, for that matter, of putting pen to paper, metaphoric or otherwise, every morning of every day, just the same.

It is the doing. It is the trying. It is the showing up.

If we stop creating, we cease to exist. Or we just exist. And what's the fun of that? I'd much rather be here than have been here, no matter what levels of perfection are involved.

Well, okay. That's pretty much a total lie. But I'm going to keep showing up, all the same.

Hope you will, too...

xxx c

Image by Ambrosio Photography via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.