I was split open emotionally at work last evening. I was ploughing through reams of research and expert feedback on a trending topic in economics and finance and I was 4 hours past my deadline. I kept staring at the screen as the panic slow and steady shot up my spine and lodged in my brain. I slammed the desk, wrung my hands and clasped them into a tight ball. Hot tears welled up behind my eyelids squeezed shut, smarting from frustration.
After muttering an incoherent rant, I shot up from my chair and walked away with my phone securely in my hand, head down staring at the screen pretending to message someone. I hit the side stairwell and climbed up to the top floor where no one goes and sat down on the topmost stair. Emerging from a frigid interior, I note in relief that the air up here is warmer.
For half an hour, I did nothing but take deep measured breaths to steady my raw nerves. I then stared at the wall for another fifteen, until my mind relented and left me alone to recover.
All in a day's work for me as writer. I'm wondering if more seasoned writers ever feel this way. When I read established writers' online or in print, I envy how well their story flows, how effortless their language constructs and how succinct their points are in writing; yet when they communicate so much more is conveyed through a single sentence.
Don't get me wrong, my research, ground work and ability to chase known and unknown sources are spot on. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that I'm pretty good. I'm not very good with compliments and I've never really given myself credit where it's due - but this I will admit, because honestly, its a skill I worked hard to hone.
But I digress. It's the constructing that I peak and trough with. The troughs, oh, how they smart! How do I explain the sheer agony of having all the information I need but not being able to draw out its essence in superbly fashioned paragraphs.
On some days, its perfect. Literally. I see sentences map out in front of me even before I type them. Each one linking beautifully to the next until the perfect finish. On a day like that, the high trumps all else. You almost feel like you could accomplish anything, and still have time for a long drive afterward.
I want that feeling everyday. Everyday! To be able to put a story together in the syntax and flourish of those writers whose words I greedily devour. At times I loathe my vocabulary and on occasion I marvel at the way my turn of phrase, quick wit and clever puns. I smile indulgently when I pack a punch. It's so addictive.
Yet that next hit can be a torturous lover, who scorns you for fun and remains hidden deliberately, playing silly games as you thrash about in the dark playing in protest but playing - pitifully - anyway.
I question myself as a writer everyday. For above me so many do better and below me so many have unbridled passion. It isn't uncommon to feel like a pretender even when in your heart you've swum oceans, and sacrificed equilibrium to dance with words.
I hold court, she says. So easily, flippantly even. Almost jealous. Good people can be too. I don't grudge her subtle mocking, for I can see there are aspects of me she'd rather have herself. Funnily enough, her stature is hard won, but not natural. She knows this. Yet, I will not belittle what she has accomplished.
I have a talent, this much I know. An unwieldy power that I'm able to grasp when it lies sleeping with one eye open. When it awakes it's cyclonic temperament puts me in tailspin. My stubborn and gutsy countenance forbids that I let go even when it thrashes wildly. It's at this moment I look around me in despair, hoping against hope that a godsend force helps me tame it - this power - this talent. I wish to master it.
It lets me guide it under false pretext. Why can't we be friends? Is it the place, the time, the space, the air conditioning?
How do I smoke the peace pipe with you? Won't you sit awhile and talk? Won't you have a hot beverage with me? Won't you let me in?