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May 8, 2012
Workmen are taking the back wall off the porch so they can put in a new wall of windows. The thunderous machine they're using to accomplish this alarms the cats, causing them to retire early to their morning nap. Perhaps it will be over when they awaken. I imagine it will -- the morning nap lasts for about six hours.

A six-hour nap seems an appropriate response to stress for a cat. It is less so for us, and yet I discern in myself the same impulse to bail out of things. Don't want to get up, don't want to write -- the reluctance to write is significant enough to make me wonder if I might have ceased to be a writer. Maybe now I'm a former writer.

And what would be the harm in that? Billions of people aren't writers, and the world doesn't end because they aren't. The idea that I could just stop doing it is a jarring one, but the fact is that my output has slowed to a trickle already, and I don't much care.

It is at such times as these that it is important to acknowledge how tangential one's feelings must be in the writing life. They can't rule there -- feelings are much too undependable to be the basis of a writing career. A writer can never ask herself whether or not she feels like writing -- too often, the answer will be NO. Something other than desire must impel us forward into it. We pick up the pen in response to the action, not of our mood, but of our will.

There have been times in my life when the longing to write was like longing for a lover. I couldn't wait to get home and begin. There have been times when I wrote all day long, and it seemed like an hour -- also like a love affair. These are not those times.

But it is no more reasonable to assume from this that a writing life is over than to imagine that a rough patch spells the end of a marriage. Neither need be true, and the preponderance of evidence suggests that neither is. We are more than bags of feelings People just have moods, and they can last a while. They color the experiences of life, but they are not qualified to move it forward or back, not all by themselves.

And we need not face the vicissitudes of mood all alone. Somebody will listen, if you can just summon the outage to speak. God, always-- but also a person. Maybe a dear one who knows you well and loves you anyway, or maybe the welcome neutrality of a professional trained to listen will heal you better. Somebody, anyway. That, and the simple passing of time.

How Do You Keep the Music Playing?

How do you keep the music playing?
How do you make it last?
How do you keep the song from fading too fast?

How do you lose yourself to someone?
And never lose your way?
How do you not run out of new things to say?

And since we're always changing
How can it be the same?
And tell me how year after year
You're sure your heart will fall apart
Each time you hear his name

I know the way I feel for you
It's now or never
The more I love the more that i'm afraid
That in your eyes I may not see forever..

If we can be the best of lovers
Yet be the best of friends
If we can try with everyday to make it better as it grows
With any luck, then I suppose
The music never ends

I know the way I feel for you
It's now or never!
(How do you keep the music playing?)
The more I love the more that I'm afraid
(How do you make it last)
That in your eyes I may not see forever

If we can be the best of lovers
Yet be the best of friends
If we can try with everyday to make it better as it grows
With any luck, then I suppose
The music never ends.

-- Lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Music by Michel Legrand

Here's Barbra singing it:
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