The day’s evasions

Today you get more Christian Wiman, this time without commentary.

There is nothing for it, the self-doubt, the recriminations, the persistent sense of futility and failure. Acknowledgement no matter how small, a publication or prize, a word of praise from a friend — this is all a sort of alcohol (though widely varying in its quality) to which most writers turn or try to turn, attempting to numb the too-lucid sense of self that makes you sit listening with unadmitted vigilance for the click of the mailman’s steps. Nothing comes, or something comes and it’s nothing, and you rise from your mangled pages to wander streets the rest of the afternoon, edging uneasily into bookstores (“I just like the quiet now,” is how an unbelieving friend of mine once explained her love for empty churches), sitting with an air of self-conscious solitude in a coffee shop or through a tedious matinee, one more hour filled and failed. There is nothing for it. The same street sounds and smudged light, evening intensifying the day’s evasions, fog feeling its boneless way in off the ocean, nowhere to go but home. And nothing there but the same room, the same blank page to which you sit down, night and doubt around you like some denser medium that you’ll either learn to breathe, or be buried by.

from “Fugitive Pieces (II),” in Ambition and Survival, p158-9

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