Perseverance (an excerpt from an email to a writer friend)

During the months leading up to the night when I felt I’d finished my novel, I started to wonder if I was a whole different level of crazy than most writers.

Why am I so obsessed? Why isn’t everyone else who’s working on a novel reporting back that they’ve been in the trenches for days and days, and they just surfaced for a quick meal and hellos to a few friends, and then back to it, because they have to? Maybe they don’t have to. Maybe they just always liked the way it sounded to say they’re writing a novel, that it’s more an idea than anything.

Shit, maybe I’m one of those eccentric writers who will get weirder over the years and grow a beard like Tolstoy, more and more isolated, even as the writing reaches a wider audience, and maybe some of the appeal will come from people sharing the stories they’ve heard or read about me, what a freak I am in real life, a hermit, a guy who meditates for six hours a day and sings to the homeless at night (though right now I’m not really a hermit, and I don’t meditate very often, and I don’t sing to the good people downtown). Actually, now that I’m writing this, those details of that hypothetical life don’t sound all that negative.

But somewhere around June or July, when these thoughts were in full bloom, when I was staying up until 7 or 8 in the morning and not even changing out of my pajama pants some days, when the light was widening at the end of the tunnel and the end of my novel kept calling, beckoning me to continue trudging closer, the existential pondering left me feeling that my drive to write was without a doubt BOTH a gift and a curse, so I decided I may as well embrace the gift side.

I’m glad I’m not normal. And I’m glad you’re not, too. It goes back to what we’ve been saying; the ones who make it are the ones who need to do it. For me, there’s no real choice. Perseverance is another of my favorite principles.

And to go along with that, I think I’ll tack this question on my wall: Why do anything half-assed?

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About Jason Allen

Jason is currently living in upstate New York and pursuing a PhD in creative writing at Binghamton University, where he is an editor for Harpur Palate. His work has been published or is forthcoming in: Passages North, Paterson Literary Review, Contemporary American Voices, Cream City Review, The Molotov Cocktail, Oregon Literary Review, Spilt Infinitive, and other venues. He hopes to one day meet Tom Waits and buy him a cup of coffee.
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2 Responses to Perseverance (an excerpt from an email to a writer friend)

  1. bk4077 says:

    Great stuff. I can’t wait to see a future version of you, walking around, Tolstoy-bearded, carrying a coffee filled with too much sugar and cream alongside a notebook, filled with words of the beautifully insane. But in a good way.

  2. Max says:

    It’s a good question and I’ve never worked under that obsession. You are not normal, but that’s not un-normal. Enjoy yourself for what you are, but don’t forget that you’re just a man. Keep up the posts, you never know a writer under you read his writing, and you keep that shit close. Max.

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