I used to romanticize Henry Miller or rather the character of Henry Miller in Tropic of Cancer and the film Henry & June or even the man biographers portrayed. I imagined myself living on the cheap, writing a masterpiece on a typewriter borrowed from a sultry lover. Then wandering the streets and drinking and dancing and talking til dawn.
I believed I could live on the edge like that and a life like that would inspire great works. Masterful writers who put you in their worlds do that. They make you feel you can do the same.
Except . . . I’m close to the edge now. Very close. No borrowed typewriter. Only an aging computer.
Instead of Paris, I’m in Fort Worth, Texas. I have no liasions set up with a banker’s wife. And I’m finding little inspiring me to write as I sit in my sister’s spare bedroom wondering if I can write more than a blog post, worrying if I’ll find gainful employment, and longing for any sign my wife might want to reconcile our marriage.
Since early November I’ve been stuck in the middle of yet another attempt at a novel, attempting to write in an genre — science fiction, a first love —that’s both foreign and familiar. As all my current chaos closed in, my writing shut down.
Perhaps, too, I feel crippled by a storm darkening my mind, ripping away the drive to write, the same crippling storm that raged through William Styron’s beautiful essay Darkness Visible. In fact, the storm in the mind is Styron’s trope for the melancholy that afflicted him.
I know, at least for me, living on the edge isn’t inspiring, it’s terrifying.