Wednesday, January 15, 2014

On the Brink of Emotional Suicide

I haven't been writing for weeks. The holidays always do this to me. I think I'll be getting lots of work done during the semester break and I end up watching Downton Abbey with a passion that sort of scares me. I feel tired and deranged after traveling to see my family in Minnesota and returning to Vermont. I miss them, I miss Vermont, I miss them. I have the obligatory conversation with my husband about how I want to move back to Northern Minnesota and live on Perch Lake Road, preferable between my two sisters' homes, and less than a mile from my parents'. My husband finds this strange. He says, he can't move there. But I go on imagining my sister and I out cross-country skiing on the lake, Moses playing at Amma and Grandpa's with his cousins, a small cabinesque house with a wood-burning stove, deep in the woods where I sit at desk overlooking a sea of pines, with not a care in the world.

Northern Minnesota

Of course, this is fantasy. When I am there, I dream of Vermont. All those organic eating, Prius-driving, composting, pickle-ing, chicken's in the backyard, over-educated liberals! I go back and forth, literally and figuratively, between the two states, unsure of where I belong and what I should be doing. But in a way, I've always loved to long for what I've left behind, what might have been. Not because I've ever felt like I've made a misstep in my life (I have), more because I am a sappy nostalgic and live deeply rooted in my mind, in the fantasies there of.

This is about writing. My lack of writing. If I stay away from my work I begin to lose perspective and  become intimidated and confused. I mostly feel like I can't actually write a story, that I don't actually know what I am doing, and should give up. Do people doing other work feel this way? I am doubtful. But this psychological game of "why am I doing this?" is deeply ingrained in the process of the artist, at least in my experience. So many women give up their art when they have children because how is it possible to raise children, run a household (even a tiny apartment?), work for money, maintain a decent relationship with a partner (not to mention friends), and do one's art? Others realize, as one Facebook post pointed out, that giving up one's art is a form of "emotional suicide".

So here I am on the brink of emotional suicide at 7:15 in the morning typing away knowing that Moses will yell "Mama" any minute and break the spell of it all. Hah. You see, such drama! What a life I lead.

I am back to hacking away at a story I've been working on for months that still feels wildly unformed (also, I am not sure that I should even be focusing on stories).  It has enough drama to be a novel but it shall not be. I've begun rewriting it from scratch, which means I don't look at the first drafts, and I've done about three paragraphs in five days--Stephen King would not be impressed with my progress, but I have to admit, I sort of am. And, there it is, "Mommy, Mommy..."

Burlington, Vermont


SarahMarian said...

Don't lose heart. Your words are priceless, dear Emily!

Emily Arnason Casey said...

Thanks, Sarah! I won't. Just needed to complain a bit in order to make it through!!