I’m blocked. I know we’re not supposed to say that, lest we manifest, but I’m staring at the wall and have no idea how to get over or through. It’s difficult to explain the misery of this to someone who doesn’t write, but for me it’s akin to a protracted channel surf in which, out of hundreds of options, you can’t find anything to watch.

I’m in my own way. I can’t get a full sentence on the page before returning it to the void and wishing I could follow. Nothing’s good enough, even for a draft. Nothing feels right. I hate my voice, my ideas, my characters. I hate trying to choose a story. Because everything’s a story, or could be, right? Everything is something. The volume of ideas is paralyzing, and makes me small in comparison. I hate how sensitive I am to my own shortcomings, how prone to despair. I hate myself for rereading Lydia Davis, who wrote a mesmerizing story (is it a story?) about three cows in a field. Another story about some weirdo at a party, and one called The Piano Lesson, in which the lesson never occurs. I don’t know what her stories are about, exactly, but I never doubt that she does. She’s a wonderful writer, and I hate myself for not being her.

Look, I know. We are what we are, and gnashing one’s teeth at the work of a better writer is counterproductive. We should learn and be inspired, and I am. But part of inspiration is this influx of ideas, which can swamp the engine and undermine the whole creative process. You begin to take on the mindset of that esteemed writer, so the ideas, though legion, are not workable. They aren’t genuine. They are apparitions of the writer we would like to be, following a line of thought and a collection of interests that are not natural but are better, lovelier, so that our own ideas become exasperating and silly and no longer worth writing.

I am literally overwhelmed by admiration. I don’t know what to do with it, so I walk around in a haze of insomnia and wistfulness, writing and deleting what I’ve written, comparing my lurid interests to the delicately rendered observations of Lydia Fucking Davis.

Sis, you’re killing me.