Why? Because today sucked, and this is what writers do on bad days. I think.
All I know for sure is that writing is a mind game, and today its delusions caught up with me.
The Delusion is Delicate
You see, today was a bad day without a single terrible event, only a series of dull frustrations.
It was just the rain and the wrong jacket, it was not enough money on a metro card, it was a dying phone, it was needing to make a purchase to unlock the restroom.
As writers, we can handle catastrophe. It’s the small things that hurt us the most.
This is the mundane day that jostles the delusion.
A delusion is a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary.
We all have bad days. Sometimes it’s the inner critic, sometimes it’s writer’s block, and other times it’s just procrastination and fear.
To get through this, I promise myself that I am going to “make it.” That I am going to finish this novel; that it will be moving, epic, and praised; that it will be published in a gazillion languages.
This, of course, is a delusion: I hold this belief despite superior evidence to the contrary– like the slim odds of getting published in a saturated market and the poor likelihood of earning a living off of my creativity.
But I want to believe it so badly that I reshape that superior evidence to my favor.
I tell myself that the people who fail don’t do the work, they don’t have the talent, they don’t have the practice–
I tell myself the other guys don’t believe it like I do.
I promise myself, I can do this. But, like the other mind games, one bad day can send it all crumbling down.
This is the golden age
When the characters in Midnight In Paris struggle with their craft, they go back in time to drop-in on what they believe is the golden age of writing and creativity.
The modern day writer wants to visit the 1920’s in Paris to hang out with Hemingway and Fitzgerald. But the flapper thinks the 1920’s are dull– for her the golden age is the Belle Époque. And the 1890’s guys? They wish they were around for the Renaissance.
Each character denies that his present is the golden age.
And no wonder. What’s golden about the past is that there are no delusions left. We already know who the visionaries are, who made up the circles of elite artists, and who had the beautiful ideas.
We forget that the people in the golden age couldn’t know that– they only had the belief that they would make it. A belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary.
Without the certainty of success, Hemingway might have seemed like some jerk who hated adverbs and picked fights in bars. His elite circle, just a crowd of drunks. Maybe on some days he thought this, too.
How much easier it would be to trudge through these bad days if I knew these are my “Einstein years at the Patent Office.”
How wonderful it would be to silence the voice that urges me to “be realistic,” and hear only the one that says I can do this. There is more to me.
It’s been a frustrating day. There will probably be many more.
Whether we are certain the spotlight is on us or not, we need to press forward as if we are in it.
And that might just be what brings it to us.
So we falter, we feel like phonies, we get a foggy glimpse of a story, we feel blue, and we do it all over again. All for that feeling when you open your notebook and think, wow, did I write that?
There can never be a golden age right now– only delusions of one.
Am I delusional, then?
Should I be?