I’ll keep this post mercifully short today because of the density of the topic. No need to make you suffer more than you already do. I just want to say that maybe you can relate: I suffer from chronic restless mind syndrome. Everything in my life is a scrap of something else, and all the scraps are constantly moving about. I live a peripatetic existence. Put another way, I don’t know what continuity means, so I don’t do well with routine or employment or commitment. I loaf and drift and chafe at the thought of some kind of life-long yoke or habit, which includes fiction writing practice. Partly because I suffer from crippling anxiety and partly because I’m utterly lost in a world that is not of my making or doing. Adorno said that the finished work is, in our times and climate of anguish, a lie.
I would add that it’s also a climate of hyper self-absorption, a mass culture of empty screen zombies. We encase ourselves in our houses, or cars, our rarified cafes. The urge is to huddle together and be like everyone else, despite the private, incessant urge to be different. I write this knowing that everyone is an individual, and I’m not saying you do any of these things. I’m saying that the climate as a whole encourages these things. It has fostered a destructive meme that says to think for oneself is to flirt with insanity. I’m not saying you don’t think for yourself nor am I saying you are flirting with insanity.
All the same, I’m convinced that we need to scrap our former definitions of sanity. I’m also convinced that the world of psychiatry is irrevocably corrupt and broken. Let’s be honest. Our old reality is, in a word, finished. Nostalgia is so overrated. And yet. Who doesn’t dream of going home? I mean home in the Rilkean sense. I mean home in the sense of remembering what we’ve all forgotten, but which has never really left us.
So. How does a fiction writer navigate her craft with integrity in such a climate of unrelenting upheaval, uncertainty, and loss? I find this to be quite a profound question, worthy of much reflection and discussion.