I’ve not written here lately. I’ve been hyper-aware of this; I think about it often. I’m ignoring my sweet pomegranate space, I say to myself. She’s going to be pissed when I get back. (Because apparently she has a temper when she’s been neglected, not that I blame her.)
And it’s funny, because I’ve been writing – elsewhere – more than I ever have before. I dove headfirst into the book, and I haven’t looked back. It’s been a godsend – something keeping me anchored in this vast chaotic hopeless place of unemployment, where the temptation to sit on the couch and watch Law and Order marathons all day is sometimes overwhelming. I quickly discovered, post-layoff, that not only am I happier when I’m contributing and being productive, but in fact the idea of having nothing of importance to do cracks open a door leading to a gaping black hole of fear that’s always been lurking just beneath the surface of my consciousness.
Certainly it’s a uniquely human trait, this belief that we are all special snowflakes who were put on this earth to do Things of Importance. And I admit, I buy into it – depending on one’s definition of importance (and mine is admittedly wide) I do, actually, believe that everyone is here for some purpose, no matter how seemingly trivial. In my view, everyone has the opportunity to contribute something significant, and I am particularly touched by small moments of meaning that indicate a significance beyond the surface. The whole random acts of kindness, senseless acts of beauty mantra has become a bumper sticker cliche by now, but when it does happen I tend to get a little weepy. (Yea yea, welcome to being a Cancer. I’m sensitive and I own it.)
I wouldn’t have expected sudden joblessness to make me feel cut off from this cycle of meaning, but it really did noticeably amplify my fear of my own insignificance. Suddenly that thing to which I had chosen to contribute – my work, which was so important to me – was gone, and… well, now what?
So I’m writing now, as often as I can, because it gives me a sense of purpose. And sure, I realize that it’s not like my writing is going to save the world. All writing – maybe all art – is somewhat self-indulgent. I’ll never forget Orson Scott Card telling a lecture-hall full of high school writers that we’d better be responsible writers, hardworking writers, we’d better take our craft seriously because, and I remember how incredulous he sounded, we’re asking people to pay us money to tell them stories. He’s made his living that way, and he still seemed somewhat mystified by the whole idea. And I’m right there with him. (On that issue. On his politics, well, not so much.)
But right now, I don’t write because I want to save the world. I write because I want to save myself. The feeling of not having anything to contribute has shaken me far more deeply than any of the other collateral costs of being laid off – the rejection letters, the financial woes. It’s not so much that I want a job; I just want to have something that gives my actions meaning. So I write because I love it, yes, and I write because I love the goal, and I write because there’s meaning in it.
Because I am a special snowflake, dammit, and I have things to say.