The other day, the newspaper carried a story on Pakistan with a photo of a bricklayer on the front page. There he was, a young man in the dust of a street, a pile of bricks up to his elbows, and a serious, tired look to his face. At 18, the article said, he is what he will be, as there was no greater dream for the young man.
No greater dream for a boy just now a man? He is what he will be, forever?
This is a tragedy, but at least the young man could feed himself by laying bricks. If he were a writer, on top of the other indignities, he would have starved.
There’s not too much in the way of mechanical work for a writer to fall back upon. The distances are long. Endurance is essential. The sprints, when they come, are pell-mell furious. Outcomes are unpredictable. How could a withered spirit make it to the end of the working day, let alone produce a serviceable line or two?
Seek what nourishes you: Something new. Something different. Something physical. Something deviant. Play the tourist. Play the fool. Play the devil’s advocate. Walk in the park. Walk in someone else’s shoes. Do something nice. Do something earth-friendly. Get in nature. Get social. Immerse yourself in other art forms. Especially this, as other creators, by virtue of their very differentness, none of them writers, have a way of shaking up your sense of the usual. This is exactly what a withered spirit needs—a reorientation toward the possible, the new, the surprising.
In due course, in time . . . Hear that? It’s your heart beating, blood quickening. It’s your awe building at the growing realization that your best work is still ahead of you.
What do you do to nourish yourself? Comment here and now. Share the wealth. The more ideas, the better.