When I first moved to Nashville, I was determined to finish my first full-length book. Every evening after work, I’d hole up at the corner table at my favorite cafe and drink cup after cup of coffee, punching away at the keyboard on my laptop. As the months rolled by, the book took shape, transformed from an idea to a physical thing. Then, on a balmy June night in 2016, I cleared the last round of edits. The book was done.

The first moments of exhilaration following the completion of two years worth of work were followed by ones of panic.

Now what?

After celebrating, the only thing to do seemed to write another book. Writing in the evenings had become part of my routine, and I wasn’t sure how else to fill the space that separated one work day from the next.

As soon as I started up a second book, though, I realized I had a problem: I didn’t have anything to write about. No one wants to read about my experience writing the first one. Because I’d been so consumed by the creative process of writing, I neglected to live a life worth writing about. As a nonfiction writer, that’s kind of an issue.

I remember the following weeks as I struggled with a massive creative block and little motivation. My new after work routine involved driving around my block for an hour, smoking cigarettes and debating whether or not to go into the corner bar by myself. At least something worth writing about might happen, I figured. But when I did go, nothing ever did happen. I only ended up smoking more cigarettes by myself, engaging in conversation with someone listless but willing, and stumbling home a little drunk.

I remember one night, laying on a mexican blanket on the floor of my bedroom, listening to the silence swell around me, thinking: I need to get out of here and do something.

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