No, I know that I think far too much. Because it’s almost 4am and my heart is pounding and I’m twirling my hair around my finger to ward off the eager nerves and my eyes are swollen and alert and my fingers are flying across brightly lit keys in a rather dark room.
My laptop is propped up on a hardcover Audrey Hepburn coffee-table book to prevent it from overheating, like my mind, like my body when I toss and turn for hours on a humid Southern night all swaddled in sheets and a light airy duvet.
I think that I think too much.
Because my mind is ablaze—the disjointed thoughts, unrealized ideas, fragmented sentences seamlessly disturb the quiet, the peace, and the calm.
It’s the angst of having the beginnings of everything, but no endings in sight; the pathways are obscured and you can barely see more than two feet in front of you. Before long it’s pitch black with only a few stars dotting the night sky. And now even one step forward is all consuming and drenched with fear.
It shouldn’t be this difficult. Chapter 1 should lead to Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 should proceed to Chapter 4… but then the text disappears and in its place there is a quasi-blank piece of paper with the tiny words Part II dangling in the center—forthcoming.
Forthcoming—what a ruse.
It’s all such a performance, a game, an act. There’s no cliffhanger, no “… “ no pause, no break. There’s only a hole—a huge gaping hole.
But I’m not completely lost; I want to write well, speak well, think well. I want to be smart, clever, and articulate. I think I always have.
I romanticize those nights where the books lay half-open with their crinkled spines and scholarly essays are tossed and splattered across the table. It’s too late to be night, yet too early to be tomorrow. Espresso is rushing through my veins and the cursor is blinking at the end of a double-spaced page of neat text as if seemingly amused by my ineptitude and rather faulty writing process. My hair is stringy, a little greasy at the roots, but I’m happy. Or whatever it could possibly mean to find bits and traces of pleasure in the process of crafting together a lyrical composition or a well-articulated argument. I want to write more, read more, produce more… but the world doesn’t seem to take notice. The clock keeps ticking in an orderly fashion, time for this, time for that.
“Danielle, normal people get dressed for the day,” my mother tells me.
There is simply no time to be “out of step” in a world of clock-like precision.
Then she asks me, “Don’t you want to throw on a suit or a nice dress and go off to work every day?”
No, no I don’t.
I don’t know what I want. Maybe to be a professor or a fiction writer or a journalist or a freelancer?
But in all honesty, I think I do; I want to work with a visceral intensity. I want to write deeply, think deeply, so deeply entrenched in my craft that I feel destroyed until the words fill the page.
I want to weave remnants of the past into ephemeral dream-like sequences.
I want to mold the new from the old and warp ugly, sad things into beautiful things.
Those people who think the same, act the same, dress the same, parading the comfort and stability of their sameness; they fascinate me, I tell my mother while clutching a bottle of vivid red polish.
“You just want to write all day… don’t you, Nan?”
Her eyes meet mine as I sit down on the footstool directly across from her. I rest my foot on her knee and she stains my toenails with the scarlet color.
“Are you going to write about me,” she asks me on the second coat.
I respond with one of those forced half-hearted crooked smiles.
“Oh you will, I know you will. You’ll write about me in your memoir and your novel,” she says.
The certainty in her voice is alarming, almost haunting; it’s insufferable.
I wish everyone would stop encouraging me to want this. How do they know that I truly can? How do they know the well won’t run dry—the creativity halted—the prose stilted only to lack poise and ease.
I haven’t written anything to warrant such smug deliberate intent. I don’t have enough bylines; I haven’t published enough, lived enough, loved enough, cried enough—a writer is fearless and here I am paralyzed with the fear that the one thing I can visualize myself doing is something that will always escape me, teasing me, mocking me.
I’m an outsider with nothing to show for her outsider-ness.
I’m a monologue, an internal rambling array of incoherent thoughts reverberating against the bookends of my typical atypical 20something angst.
Or maybe I’m just a ridiculous cliché—writing when normal people sleep, sipping bougie soy lattes in dimly lit coffee shops, and writing in leather-bound journals with a loopy, cursive hand.
I think that I think too much.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll write a novella.
But now it’s time to sleep.