We had our writing group last night. Kate talked about the ways she avoids writing. I was surprised, having imagined that all her happiness comes from writing, all the time. She described being happy in stolen moments– on a subway, at some street corner where she grabs a scrap of paper from her pocket and writes down a line of dialogue, but then said that whenever she sits down at the computer to “write” she finds herself squirming and looking for ways to dodge it, so she almost never sits down to “write” at all.

I am beginning to learn that I have to write, whether I want to or not, whether I am talented and deserving, whether, on that particular day, I have anything to say. I write so that I become too bored by writing to be intimidated by it. I write so that I stop being scared by the boredom, and the frustration, and the sense of failure. I write to learn how to ignore those feelings, and keep digging.

Speaking of which, I bet people who dig for gold don’t expect to enjoy it. You just get your pick and your sleeping bag and scramble, collecting tricks from the people who got out there before you. You don’t feel like a failure if you aren’t having fun, if you find it hard– in fact, you feel victorious if you keep at it longer than you think you can stomach, you consider it a victory to build strength and stamina, to live on little water and less hope. If there’s any satisfaction, it must come from the discipline of trying, showing up day after day.

See if you can write in spite of the voices. See if you can outlast those voices, so that they go home, finally sick of you, and leave you alone, still at the table, writing.

The baby walks along the sidewalk outside my window and cries and cries, guttural, back of the throat roars that will leave his throat sore and raw in the morning, faint scar from his attempt to get his mother to pick him up and carry him home. She wears cutoff jeans, a floppy straw hat, has an Indian print bag over her shoulder, and carries her flip flops in one hand. I can pick you up, she says, but you have to stop that. Keep walking, says the father. She turns and walks again, the baby roars, outraged, and I wonder how much of what she said to him he can possibly understand. Like people who trail their dogs away from a bad encounter at the park, saying in cooing, coaxing voices, “Bruno, you can’t just jump on people like that, you have to listen.”

This morning Jesse was telling me about his bad dreams. The very first dream he ever had was bad. Story lesson: he said bad dreams are the worst kind of dreams to have but the best kind to remember, because they are exciting.