Since finishing my edits to my book, 27 Million Revolutions for 27 Million Slaves, and sending it off to my first-readers and old professors for further edits and comments, I have done very little writing. At first I thought lots of sleep and rest was well-deserved. I still think it's well-deserved, but now it has been two weeks and I have rarely even attempted to work. Truthfully, I feel purposeless since finishing my first book.
There are lots of things that I could do. I could write more often for this blog or my two other blogs (how I, a guy who hates blogs, ended up writing three blogs, is beyond me), I could work on the novel that I started, I could expand my master's thesis to its final length to prepare for publication, I could write one of the many essays I have outlined in my notebook, or at least continue studying Greek and Spanish. I have done none of these things. A great feeling of purposelessness has overtaken me, indeed. With one book done, the one that, though I hope to have a long writing career, will probably have the most tangible potential to change the world for the better, I feel like I am done.
I--like many artists and writers, I think--am easily depressed and exhausted. Accomplishing a giant task like writing a book has only reinforced that fact. It is a sign of what I have done that I am exhausted, and it is right and good to rest; but for how long must I indulge before I can once again work? And if I'm honest, the depression I feel could be better defined as guilt: I worked hard for a couple of months and now I'm taking a two-week vacation; how am I supposed to justify that to the millions of hard-working people in this world who would die for two weeks of vacation time during the entire year, let alone all at once?
The lesson here? If you want to be a writer or artist, it will be better for you if you eliminate whatever conscience you might have. As I've talked about in a previous post, being a writer isn't all fun and games to begin with. The second you think that your work and your life should have some justification, some meaning, then your life will stink all the more.
At times like these, I think of another lesson. Our work and life do not need justification. We have been given life, either by God, ourselves, or by the greatest series of chance events imaginable; whichever option we choose we must acknowledge that living life is all the justification that we need for anything. Live and enjoy life and help others to do the same. True, art and writing often shows us the darkness and pain of life, and rightly so, but seeing the "the darkness in the weather of the eye / is half its light," as one of Dylan Thomas's poems says. Our purpose is to live and enjoy well, not to do anything. Once we acknowledge that it will become a whole lot easier to achieve greatness.