The View from Square One.
Inspiration whispered early yesterday morning.
Standing over a pot of nearly-boiling water, I listened to my children as they built another semi-permanent fort/restaurant in the living room, pausing only once to run in to greet me with hugs and breakfast requests.
I poured coffee over pummeled grounds in the stainless steel press, soaking in the familiar, promising hiss.
I live for that hiss each morning.
And as my bare feet shuffled back and forth on the linoleum floor, the ‘thing’ that artists can’t ever adequately describe, the ‘thing’ that keeps their hearts in check, the ‘thing’ that makes them feel most human, it stirred and I thought: today I’ll step back into my book.
For months now, I’ve been working on my most substantial piece of writing to-date; I still struggle with calling it by definitive terms like ‘book’ or ‘novel’ because a part of me still worries that it’s an unrealistic goal, one that ‘grownups’—which, surely I am not—can accomplish, a goal that only real writers know how to weave out of thin air.
Last month was busy. I started two new jobs: hired as the Managing Editor for MeetMindful as well as a Senior Editor with The Good Men Project. As a way to avoid complete overload and possible burn-out, I put my creative project on hold for an entire month. Though there were moments when I wished I had been writing, I knew to take care of my energetic self it was a necessary step.
Part of my self care as a writer also includes limiting (as best I possibly can) my editorial work to the Monday through Friday block. I need weekends to immerse myself in my own work, to recharge with my family, to get outside, to do all the things editors can lose sight off during working hours (which, in and of themselves maintain pretty blurry perimeters—the nature of the business).
Yesterday was the day to go back, a visceral certainty.
So as I sat down to my familiar desk to open my ‘write’ folder, I was overwhelmed to find my work missing.
Now, “missing’ to someone who has been consumed with panic may not be missing at all. In moments like these, it is in our human nature to jump to the worst conclusions.
I made desperate, silent pleas to the universe—it must be somewhere.
I sent messages to a trusted friend, the friend that everyone should have, the friend that reassures you that everything will be fine if you just keep your head.
I scoured every folder my laptop keeps. Missing.
I moved to my external drive to look through back up after back up after back up of my computer’s inner contents.
When my man walked into the kitchen for his own first-cup of coffee I met his gaze in the doorway and burst into tears.
It’s just gone. I don’t know how or why, but it is. Gone.
And so that’s where I’m at today: on the other side of missing.
I must surrender months of ideas to someplace unknown; I must accept the deaths of thousands words, all selected with purpose, all edited down to their best selves, all polished and rearranged and intimately acquainted with their neighbors.
Thousands and thousands of words that came out of me—all gone.
I don’t have much faith that these words are going to reappear, whether by some technological miracle or through re-channeling a former muse; and I don’t have any grand lessons to offer, though I hope one will present itself in due time. I realize that even in writing this, my words feel clunky and without purpose or direction as though I’ve betrayed them somehow.
I didn’t want to be here today—with a clean slate—but I am. And so, today I will sit down to a blank screen and begin the writing process to what I will be an entirely different story, as my story was changed unexpectedly.
I will start again—I don’t know what else to do. I will start again, because it seems I have to.