What’s next?

Self-Portraits
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Focal Length: 14mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter: 1/40 sec
  • Camera: NIKON D80

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

So many self-portraits taken over the years. If you put them together, what story would they tell? Can anyone see beneath the surface? I used to be able to interpret them, could tell from the lens I chose, the lighting, exactly where I was emotionally. Lately my self-portraits are inscrutable. I often have the odd sensation I’m looking at someone else.

I get lost when I’m out of town. Without my things to ground me, without my kitties and my house, and my everyday routines, I start to drift, forget who I am. I worry that I won’t find my way back. I worry that I won’t care. I get wrapped up in work, live it, breathe it, absorb it into my pores. Work is one of the few things, the only thing, that seems real.

I finished this story for the Monitor in Tulsa yesterday, and I’m working on a new one in Oklahoma City today. My editor, Scott, is good to me, and I’m grateful. I look in the mirror and wonder when he will realize I’m a shitty writer. When the pretty daydream will fall apart. I try to do my best. I try to write so hard and so fast that my enthuiasm makes it through the pervasive fog that hangs over me.

I try to tell myself I always feel this way when I’m out of town. But there’s something so incredibly lonely about being down in a hotel, even a very posh hotel. Especially a very posh hotel. The story went well this weekend. The next story will be fun, and everything is okay. But I’m troubled that I’m not shooting images of Oklahoma. What if I never return? I’m worried about the fiction projects that lie fallow. I’m weary of the ideas that flit through my brain and disappear.

I’m so very tired. I need my next story to go well, and the one after that, and the one after that. I need to be able to make someone happy. To pull off something brilliant. I desperately need something I can’t name. What I didn’t need was the Baby Ruth OR the KitKat I scarfed after I took this image.

I don’t even have to have the conversation.

I’m so tired of doing this.
So stop.
It’s not that easy.
Yes, C. Actually, it is.

Get a grip, he says, and I recoil. The words land where they’re intended, linger long after their point has been made. That’s exactly the problem. I can’t catch my grip because there’s nothing to hold on to.

So I cling to my editor’s emails. Without them, I don’t know what’s next.

Music: Breathe Me by Sia (lyrics)

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