I am going in again. There is no stopping me. I have gotten too close to it. Its pull is far too strong to resist now. I am going back in. I have no choice.
The black hole before me is not very inviting, but its powerful attraction is irresistible. I have been in there before, but only once. This is not the sort of black hole that keeps forever what it swallows. This black hole will eventually spit you out. When you emerge from this black hole, you’ll be naked, bedraggled, drained. You will think for a moment that you never want to experience it again, that it was too much to endure again. Then, before too long, you will find yourself tiptoeing ever closer to it, testing its margins of safety. Finally, you will step too close and you’ll feel the suction pulling you, soul first, from the inside out, back toward its terrifying, icy core.
When I went in before, I was naive. It was exciting to go in that first time. The black hole appeared to be a vortex of swirling potential, of gleaming possibilities. Indeed, there is a lot of potential in there. There is also a lot of fear. There are times where you feel you’ll never come out, or that, if you do, it will be as a shadow of your former self, a chewed up relic of what you thought you might be, in other words, a miserable failure.
There is no time in the black hole. That is another thing that makes it such a scary, cold place full of the bleakness of uncertainty. You go in, and you stay in, until it is over.
You may not even know this black hole exists, not unless you have written a book or something else you poured yourself into for an extended period of time. I certainly didn’t know it. It seems like another lifetime ago that I came out of the black hole for the first time. When my first book was finished I came out of it a different person. Writers go through an internal process that is difficult to explain short of saying that, for months, you are doing battle within yourself. Every sentence you write goes through an internal vetting process. What seems like the perfect phrase one minute may turn to rubbish the next. A writer goes through periods ranging from manic senses of over-inflated accomplishment to depressive thoughts that nobody in the history of mankind ever strung together a more meaningless series of thoughts. Then, somewhere in all of that, somewhere, fighting an epic internal battle there in the bowels of the black hole, good enough has to be good enough. Only then does the black hole spit you out. Then you are exposed to the world, naked, spent, vulnerable, and afraid. Now others are left to make the final judgement of what came out of black hole with you in the form of a manuscript.
Now here I am again. I have tiptoed up to the margin of the black hole’s pull. I have crossed the line and I am going back in. I have far too much else on my plate right now for this to make any sense, but then, I guess the writing process isn’t supposed to make sense. So here I go, back in. Look for me on the other side. I will be easy to find, huddled there quivering, naked and vulnerable, clutching a manuscript. Be gentle if you find me there.