This first appeared in Lit Hub's Craft of Writing newsletter— sign up here . The essay that shifted me from the “promising kid” to “young upstart” category, and almost deposited me prematurely in the “overrated incontinent” bin where I presently dwell, was a scholarly essay about a book collector named Mikimoto Ryuzo. I had become vaguely obsessed with this person, and spent a couple of months tracing his steps around Tokyo, where he lived until the Second World War, and returned home with a sheaf of documents, mostly fairly banal cover sheets, copies of the front matter of some honestly-not-very-rare editions of Ruskin, unconvinced that I had anything to say. I showed them to my advisor—it was the summer, and he invited me to his house, and sat with me patiently, seemingly honestly impressed (or maybe even moved!) by my haul. To him, it seemed obvious that there were things to say about the documents—things about embodiment, desire, sexuality, history, race, violence—and that there was relatively little to do other than some light annotation, and I was on to a winner. I left his house feeling excited to open up my laptop and start writing. Twelve months passed, and I had written nothing. Most days I would feel guilty, unsure, clogged. Deadlines given to me for the sole purpose of incentivizing my writing came and went—who, in their heart of hearts can really abide by such a deadline, unless they already want to? At some point, an external deadline reared its head—it was connected to the absolute despair at feeling unrecognized I felt as a grad student—and I planned to get my work done, to write a ten thousand-word dissertation chapter, start to finish, in a weekend. I planned accordingly: when Thursday came around, I bought two cases of IPA, and saved up a bunch of Klonopin in case I needed brief bursts of sleep. (I am an alcoholic and a drug addict.) I started drinking on Friday morning, and by mid-afternoon was on the Klonopin: the goddess of benzodiazepines blessed me, however, and rather than lull me to […]
Click here to view original page at Grace E. Lavery: You Already Write How You Write, Just Give In.
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