Every morning I wake up at 5 AM, shower, dress, walk to a coffee shop near my home, and, for two hours before I go into my job, I write. Except on mornings when I don’t. On those mornings I wake up and do other things before going into my job. The mornings I write I consider good days. I name them Success. The mornings I do not write I have named Failure.

Failure is a beast that pursues me. I outrun him when I write, but I never lose him for long. He keeps coming. At night, as I lie down to sleep, I hear him baying in the distance. He has my scent. He finds me in the night and stalks outside my door in the morning. After I wake and shower and dress and leave my home, Failure nips at my heels. Some days he catches me, pins me down, holds me to the earth, and I begin to feel the dust swallowing me bit by bit, reclaiming me, a coffin-less burial. I know this beast will win in the end.

But not yet.

I struggle free, regain my footing, and flee. Maybe the next day, maybe the day after, maybe later still, but I escape, and I write. Not yet, Failure, not yet. I still have my legs, breath in my lungs, and words to put down on pages. Not yet.

While I run from one beast, I chase another. The beast Success is weird and ungainly. I have but glimpsed him a time or two. In the shadows almost beyond my outstretched hand, I once grazed his cool skin. It felt like water though it left no trace except an electric tingle in my fingertips that quickly fled. I smell him—wood ash and honeysuckle—I hear his claws on the rocks. His tail dragging through the fallen leaves leaves a trail I have learned to track.

He only bellows when I have been held hostage by Failure for an eon. From afar, he makes a mournful sound. He misses me, I think. He likes eluding me. His sad call revives my resolve. I recover. I resume my quest. Through all of this, I know I will never catch him. He cannot, cannot, cannot be caught.

I believe that when the beast that bays behind me finally catches me and interns me in the dirt, his eagerness to bury me will doom him too. His paws placed firmly on my shoulders will slip into the guzzling dust as well. He will sink beneath the loamy waves and disintegrate in the abyss. Then the beast always before me will come kindly to the place where I rest and lay upon the ground above me, warming the earth-womb that holds me, and wait for my rebirth.

To be an artist is to be ever between two beasts. Accomplishment is simply to run – away from the one beast and after the other. I run by writing. Other artists run in their own ways. The running is what matters. Footfall by footfall, I run. That is enough.