It feels so good to be back.
Like coming home. Like opening a door and finding everything on the other side just as you left it. A little dusty, perhaps, but the stacks of books are there, precarious as Jenga blocks, the loose sheets of paper flutter on the desk, blocks of your old text illuminated by the sunlight slanting through the blinds, just as it has always done in the late afternoon. You lightly touch the back of the chair and feel the grooves where your fingers, and the fingers of all the people who owned this chair before you, have rested in pensive moments. You pull it out and see the imprint of yourself and all the people who have ever sat in this chair for hours upon hours, in the night and in the day. You glimpse the light scratches on the wooden floor where this chair has been pushed back, in resignation, in frustration, in anger, in satisfaction, in relief. You have no way of knowing what your attitude will be when you stand up next time, but you grit your teeth and slide yourself into that seat anyway, edge up close to the desk like pulling up a seat next to a friend at a party. And it is a party, you know.
And by that, you know it doesn’t mean that every moment will be delightful. You will have your bright moments of joy, of course; those are what brought you back, those are what make this all worth doing, the dressing up, the showing up. You will have gleaming flashes of inspiration that almost blind you, dizzy whirling moments when you lose yourself in a dance. You will put down words that taste sweet and rich and delicious when you try them in your mouth, you will find old friends and laugh with wild abandon, and you will be looked over and given approving smiles from attractive strangers.
But all parties have their highs and their lows. You will get tired, your arms and fingers and mind exhausted from the whirl. Your mouth will ache with how hard you have been kissing characters, and words will fall slowly from your lips and your pen to crackle and wither on the floor like autumn leaves that have lost their luster. You will say things that you thought would never say and wish you had never thought. You will knock elbows with a stranger and start a fight you didn’t mean. The evening will go to your head, making you feel invincible, make you loathe to spill another drop of ink. Push yourself too hard, and it will leave you aching, curled up in a corner and hiding from the world that expects too much from you. You might end up heaving everything you wanted to keep, just chucking it in the bin in a final act of desperation. You will hide in the shreds of your dignity and pray that no one saw that, that everything will be forgotten in the morning. One day you may show up in entirely the wrong outfit for the occasion, or perhaps worse, the exact same outfit as someone you hate.
But none of these things mean that you shouldn’t show up for the party. True, it might end in a hot mess, but how will you know unless you go? Don’t let them say you didn’t try. Put on your warpaint and walk into the room like you own it. If you put it on paper, you do. You own mansions, castles, entire nations, an ever-expanding universe. Just go in there, and start to drink it in, drink it all. Start to dance and don’t care if anyone is watching. If you do it right, they’ll all be watching, waiting, wishing. If you’re uncomfortable, just sit this one out. If the party is a bust and nobody cool is there, leave. But don’t let them say you didn’t try. More importantly, don’t be able to tell yourself at the end of the day you didn’t try. Don’t lie to yourself either. if you lie to yourself you can’t tell the truth on the page, and yes you have the tell the truth, especially when you weave your fictions. That is truth’s real home and you must make it right.
So pull out that familiar chair and take a seat. It fits you just right. Pick up the pen… doesn’t it warm instantly between your fingers? Look down at the pristine pages in front of you, and prepare to make them a sloppy drunken mess. Everything is just as you left it. The world has been waiting for you. It’s like coming home, like opening a door and finding yourself blinded by light and all the things you loved.
It feels so good to be back.