I Let a Wolf Win and I Know Why

The Moon is seen as it sets behind the National Capitol Columns at the US National Arboretum on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018 in Washington.

Just now, a notification popped up on my phone. "Monica, did you write today?" I have this message scheduled once a day. Most times, I say "Yes!" Sometimes, I say "No."

Only once, have I wanted to tell my phone to piss off. Once, because on that day I let my other "wolf" win.

I remember a story about two wolves—each representing a conflicted part of ourselves. It’s lesson is simply: you become the wolf you feed. A cursory search yielded a lot of potential results for authorship, so please forgive me for lacking proper attribution other than to say "possibly Cherokee or Lenape," according to Wikipedia.

I do have two authorial wolves. One is called Capitalism. I don't know what the other wolf is called, because she doesn't have a name. She is wild and free from worry—always running, playing, howling at the moon. She doesn't care about Capitalism and is exhausted from his near-constant attacks. Sometimes, she taunts him. Sometimes, she escapes into a liminal space where she is always free.

On the day that I let Capitalism win, I convinced myself that no one will want to read my stories, the one I pull from deep down to form that connection between myself, the author, and you, the reader. And, if no one wants to read what I write… Then, who'd pay for it?

From there, worms that ended in question marks. "What good are plans if they fall through ten, twenty, thirty times?" "Will the next project land? Or miss like the last dozen or so?" After the third question—"How can I trust everything will 'just work out'?"—the question marks turned into dollar signs.

It has always been true for me that the craft of writing and the business of writing don't always complement one another. And, it's also true that I must be aware there's a business mechanism while ensuring I don't allow that wolf to swallow me whole. Writing-on-spec is very different from writing-on-contract, but to grow? I have to write on spec.

Capitalism only won for a day, because I reminded myself of three, important-to-me things: first, it's okay to have a bad day; second, anxiety is not about fear. It's about the need to exert and maintain control, but failing miserably. Except, my anxiety has no place, because asking me to tame Capitalism is like asking me to invent a holodeck. Not gonna happen. And third, writing—the act of butt-in-chair tap-tap-tapping (or scribbling/reciting) away doesn't have anything to do with Capitalism. It's the "what comes after" bit that does; other than 'submit', that project's status is "unknown", until it's not anymore. The rest is quite literally out of my hands.

Controlling the unknown is a futile effort. Coming up with words to fill a blank page? Ah, yes. That, dear Reader, is what reminded me what I should do next. Don't feed Capitalism—but don't scrutinize the other wolf, either. Instead, summon the moon and the winding river that runs beneath it. Plant the trees that will one day become a forest. Give that other, nameless wolf the space to just "be". To play, to howl, to run and run and run.

To just write.