I’ve been struggling with my writing lately, so I took a road trip to Amherst, Massachusetts to be inspired by a visit to Emily Dickinson’s birth home. She was born there, and she died there, and was a recluse for most of her adult life. I saw the bedroom where she wrote most of her poems- nearly all of them published after her death. I don’t know what kind of inspiration I was looking for, but it got me thinking- do I have to wait until after I die to have only my sister discover my writings to have them published and then become famous?
The Morgan Library has an exhibit right now on Ernest Hemingway. As I was going through the exhibit, an elderly lady who was standing next to me whispered, “He shot himself, you know.” He was a drunk and suffered from depression, but is considered one of America’s greatest writers. Maybe I’m just too sane to become a great writer- yeah, that’s my problem! I asked my friend who was going through the exhibit with me, “Would you rather live a safe, happy, stable life and only write mediocre stories, or would you sacrifice some of your sanity- do a Sylvia Plath, maybe- in order to write that one brilliant piece of work?” She looked over at me and said, “Great question.”