Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Writing through the Worry

I am a chronic worrier.  Worry is a part of who I am, as ineluctable as height. I have learned to live with it.  It is, to me, the most irksome of my unattractive traits.

Here are some of the things I worry about:

--my adult children’s health, safety, and general happiness;

--whether the rats that infiltrated our house two years ago (necessitating a new roof) will ever return;

--my 94-year-old mother’s diminished cognition;

--her sadness;

--the unhappy state of the publishing industry, resulting in people like Snooki getting book deals;

--getting punched on the street for no reason (note: this is now a thing);

--whether the dark brown item on the seat of my car is a rat dropping or (more likely) a crumb of gluten-free Oreo cookie;

--if I am drinking enough water;

--why I have no thirst mechanism;

--if it is worse to drink so much that I have to pee several times during the night (and get less sleep) or drink less and sleep for seven hours straight;

--if the egg recently hatched by these barn owls ( will hatch;

--how long people are going to be stupid about guns;

--if I will look silly wearing boyfriend jeans and oxfords.

And the list goes on.
When I was younger, I found it difficult to worry and write at the same time.  Writing demands a certain immersion—an intentional letting go—that worry works against.  Writing takes you away.  Worry holds you down by the throat.

As I age, I try to write through the worry.  Sometimes I am successful; sometimes, not so much.  I wish I were the kind of writer who finds solace in writing.  Instead, I find that the effort exposes my subconscious in painful ways.  Somewhat counter-intuitively, worry functions as a weird kind of anesthetic, numbing me to my own self, denying me access to the mental space where good work can happen.

I keep trying to find a way to manage all this.

I’ll tell you one thing: that better be an Oreo crumb.  Because if I am going to have to deal with rats in my car, then I may just have to check myself into some sort of facility.

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