by Geoff Schutt
Final draft: I have yet to hit my groove.
Draft number eight: I am aware of my surroundings, and this frightens me. But I welcome enlightenment through the fear.
Draft number seven: Sometimes I think too much. I don’t try to think too much. I just do.
Sixth draft: Contemplation is not a waste of time. You can never think too much.
Fifth draft: I watch the planes fly over from my bedroom window during the day, and I listen to the trains at night. It seems everybody is going somewhere but me. But I can hear them going places, and this is inspiring.
Middle draft, between the fourth and fifth: Some days, I put too much weight on myself. I know I need to get from “there” to “here.” I feel like I’m letting everyone else down, but then I get that this is ego talking. Nobody much cares about what it takes for ME to get from there to here. I care about it, of course, but it really doesn’t matter much to anybody else. What counts is the “there” and the “here.” Or maybe I’m doing it all backward.
Fourth draft: I know what I am capable of, and I am frustrated by that.
Third draft, somewhere after the middle: When I think I’m close, I must prevent myself from stopping, at any cost. When I’m close, I cannot allow myself to sleep. Eating makes me sleepy. I cannot allow myself to eat. I cannot allow anything to get in my way. I need to keep up the momentum. Nothing will get in my way. I will make sure of that.
Middle draft: I spend (a lot of) time waiting. Sometimes I wait because I know that the time is not right. Sometimes I wait because I know that I am not right (for the time). Mostly, I wait, confident in the timing — the time will be right, and I will be ready when the time is right. I cannot die today. There is too much work to be done. I cannot die while there is so much work to be done. This is important to realize.
Second draft: I have so much to say, but it’s trapped, and the thing is, I am not convinced that it has not been me doing the trapping all along. I need to dig deeper. I need the rawness. I need to make my knuckles bleed from the digging. I need to taste my own blood to know how real I am.
Draft shortly after the first: I feel destined, but that’s a really cocky thing to say, isn’t it?
First draft: I have yet to hit my groove.
Geoff Schutt’s short fiction has appeared in The Quarterly (edited by Gordon Lish for Vintage Books/Random House), The Best of Writers at Work, The Wastelands Review and The Laurel Review, among others. After living in Ohio for many years, he now resides in the Washington, D.C. area. His novel-length work is represented by James McGinniss of McGinniss Associates Literary Agency, New York City. More about Geoff Schutt is available at his blog, “This Side of Paradise,” at http://geoffschutt.blogspot.com
Paiting: Aurora Caro Eng – detail from DANZA NOCTURNA