“To be down low”

It’s been a busy week, in ways both good and stressful, but I’m happy to say that on Friday, tomorrow, I’ll be sending my summer quarter kids out into the world for a hopefully successful school year.

And, I’m equally happy to say, I’m about to get down to serious business on the new book. I’ve been a bit conflicted about starting this project, because what “presented itself to my brain,” as my writing partner Tanya and I like to say about our off-the-wall ideas that demand our attention, is something very different from anything I’ve done in the past. And I’ll admit that I’ve been worried about whether I’ll be able to execute this book the way I want to. The reality of having actual time to write has brought all those fears to the forefront of my mind, and I feel no further along in my fiction abilities than I did when I began Jacob Wrestling almost exactly a year ago (even though I know I must have grown along the way).

So it was with all this in mind that I came across this week’s “Dear Sugar” at The Rumpus. Now, I don’t know who Dear Sugar is, though I have a strong suspicion. But whomever is witting this, I adore the insights in this week’s post. Not only is she incredibly honest about her own experience, she gives us to it straight:

Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.

It’s easy, as the solitary creatures we are, to think that our experience of writing is somehow unique, and somehow harder or less naturally forthcoming than, say, Jonathan Franzen’s experience, or–in the case of the woman who wrote to The Rumpus this week–David Foster Wallace’s. A good tough-love reminder from Sugar was just what I needed not only to have an attitude check, but also to get excited about the digging down deep, which should be, as she reminds us, a humble act.

Thanks, Sugar.

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