I’m trying to find my way back to reading and writing. As ridiculous as it sounds and as embarrassing as it is to admit, I’ve let those things slip away — I’ve been distracted by easy access to binge watching and the internet. Since my diagnosis in December (and probably for a good long while prior to that), I’ve been unable to concentrate or focus on anything that demands my full attention. TV is easy background noise. A total non-thinking activity.
I have lost my motivation to write. I stare at my manuscript and can’t figure out how to move it forward. I don’t know what the words should be. And I know it’s tied to my inability to read, to find a book that pulls me in. Reading leads to writing and vice versa. It’s impossible to have one without the other. I want to find my way back. I have been here before, but never under these circumstances.
Yesterday I watched the JK Rowling story on Netflix. It was one of those sappy Lifetime movies, an unauthorized biography. When she finally — after years and years of carting around her handwritten manuscript in a box — found an agent and sold the publishing rights to her first book, I cried. Big fat soggy tears. Really. How crazy is that? I didn’t cry when I was diagnosed with cancer, but I cried watching a movie about JK Rowling. I’m pretty sure that’s a sign. I admit, I am a bit of a Harry Potter fan, and I am in awe of her journey. She stuck with it, even through some seriously hard times.
I haven’t stuck with my novel. I’ve rewritten it more times than I can remember. And I think now that might have been a mistake. There is a part of me that wants to go back to the simplicity of that very first draft, and another part of me that wants to abandon the project entirely and start over with something new. I no longer know the right way to move forward. But I know what I want: I want to write. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. To be an author. A novelist. An essayist. A writer.
And so for now, I will find books to lose myself in. Last night I started reading Euphoria, by Lily King (love her!) — and I am committed to making my way through the pile of unread books on my shelves. Though I am filled with self-doubt, I know this is what I have to do. I have to find my way back to the only thing I have ever really wanted.
Maybe it’s time for me to tell a different story, or maybe I have to somehow finish the one I’ve started. I don’t have the answer yet. But I am hopeful.
The truth is, I don’t know what else to do with my life, or how else to fill my days. I want to feel the rush of a good idea, the tingling in my fingers, the blind desire to shut out the rest of the world and lose myself in a good story.
Sometimes I think it is the only thing that will save me, the only thing that will make sense of the path my life has taken. I will find my way back — because I have no choice. It’s the only thing I know how to do.