In the Absence of Hunger

Scene: A writer locks himself inside his small studio apartment. He works vigorously on his novel day and night. He pounds away on his typewriter even though we’re well into the 21st century. The unpaid bills pile up at the door. He ignores it all; blocks out everything and survives on cereal because his soul simply can not rest until the world consumes his words. End scene.

This isn’t me. I wish wholeheartedly it could be. I am not a starving artist. I’m well fed. My bills are paid and I don’t own an antique typewriter. I do like cereal though. I work tirelessly at a job I love and when I get home the last thing I can muster the energy to do is write the great novel that’s been swirling around in my head, itching to spill out. I wish I were hungrier. Instead I’m well fed comfortable and distracted with day to day rituals and responsibilities.

Whenever I delve into the worlds of my own creation I feel that perhaps I should be resting up for the long workday ahead instead. Maybe I should preparing my sons lunch for tomorrow. Picking out what to wear. Cuddling with my husband. Watching reality TV. Working on my presentation. Anything but writing about Bridget and Yuri, characters that have become so much a part of my life over the last six years that I should’ve sent them an invite to my wedding. I shouldn’t be wasting time on something that may never see the light of day. A hobby.

I’m well fed. My bills are paid. All responsibilities of mine have been handled by me helping others pursue their dreams. But when I sit down at the table to pursue mine I feel selfish and indulgent. I’m not hungry. My life and my well being do not hinge on meeting a deadline or getting these words out of my head and on to paper, and getting that paper onto an executives desk so they can tell me whether missing my rent payment or eating ramen for months was all for a good reason. I’m not a starving artist and I’m not I always feel that I’m at a disadvantage.

I sometimes drift off in my cubicle staring over the Manhattan skyline and think of
an alternate universe where I have unkempt hair, ripped jeans, and a backpack that carries only the few essential items I need to survive. Holding my thumb out as I hitch rides and weave through different cultures. Different realities. I use everything I experience to pour my soul into the next brilliant American novel. I can almost feel the dirt under my hands as I learn how to plant vegetables from the natives. That hunger feeding me and driving me to greatness.

But I’m well fed and dirt makes my skin crawl. My hair is neatly coifed. My suit jacket tucks neatly around me in all the right places. Writing in my world means sitting down with guilt, waning drive, and disinterest and humbling myself to my inner author. Giving the old typewriter inside of me a chance to whir and click because it can’t in the real world. I write for the feeling at the end. When the writing process is over and I’m a few letters closer to my goal. I’m not a starving artist but have one inside of me and for periods it goes ignored. But it’s always been patient with me. It’s always there whenever I’m ready to resume my work and that’s why I remain loyal.

I don’t have the luxury of abandoning my day job and writing to my hearts content and I’m not sure if I even want to. I enjoy my full tummy. But since I don’t have that hunger in my gut I need to keep it in my soul. “Never stop writing” is the best advice I’ve received from seasoned writers and I’m keeping that close to me. I could feel bad about being inconsistent but instead I’ll just pick up where I left off. Thankfully my characters don’t move forward without me. 🙂