Too often, I am losing myself in my work. Sometimes that feels like all I am: someone who wakes up and writes and pushes himself to read difficult books, then goes to sleep and does it all over again the next day. As wonderful as it is to sit down and pour a story in my head onto the page, measuring my self-worth by my ability to do that—and do it quickly—has led me to some perilous emotional places. Because what if, after the book-long feast, there’s a famine?
In our house, we’ve pushed a love seat up against the bay window where we spend hours looking into the backyard tracking squirrels and sparrows and the occasional groundhog as they dart along in the grass or find purchase on tree branches. The chatty disquiet of my ego melts away and I manage to contemplate the saturated greens and browns of our little backyard ecosystem. There, in this universe of twigs and branches and leaves and flowers, creatures are living right alongside us, existing without a whisper of self-criticism. I watch, learning from them. I am reminded that my life need not be circumscribed by my career, that I’m meant for bigger things than scrambling for crumbs of literary prestige. And then, once I know none of it matters, I’m able to write again.
—Rafael Frumkin, author of Confidence (Simon & Schuster, 2023)