Annie Dillard and the Funk of Writing and Reading Too Much


Never, ever, get yourself into a situation where you have nothing to do but write and read. You’ll go into a depression. You have to be doing something good for the world, something undeniably useful; you need exercise, too, and people.

Annie Dillard, from the introduction to In Fact, the Best of Creative Nonfiction

In my newspaper days, I fantasized about having the time only to do nothing but write and read. A full time daily newspaper job consumed so much free time, little was left for reading or writing (other than the job). I dreamed of vacation days when all I would do would be read and write.

Now, however, because I’m underemployed, my days are consumed with reading and writing to the point I plummet into a funk — my mind makes a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven, strutting and fretting with fears real and imagined. Will I get full time work? Will I ever get another freelance assignment? Am I good enough even for local media? Am I good enough, period. The idiot’s tale, a neverending story.

So, Dillard’s right: My wife and I have been walking, and the exercise tenses down less fretting on my part. But, as of yet, I don’t feel useful, and I miss being around people, specifically my former colleagues at the paper. But, there’s less fretting. And that’s a good thing, right?

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2 thoughts on “Annie Dillard and the Funk of Writing and Reading Too Much

  1. Here, here. Art is a response to the outside world (from the inside of the artist). If all we do is “create”, then eventually we will run out of fuel which the outside world (and its tension/romance/fear/etc..) conjures within us.

  2. I’m glad I found this site. Writers need what everyone else needs but also more seclusion. We feed on marrow differently, perhaps more suculantly. We find pleasure in the bones that others discard and call good for naught. But we still need a good sweat, a great kiss, and trusted animals.

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