You guys, it is totally true about reading making us stronger writers. Well, I can't yet say stronger, but more focused. After analyzing the structure of several essays over the last few days, I came to understand better why the hummingbirds still felt unfinished. Essays culminate. Not always in any grand philosophical denoument, or universal theme, but they gather to a loud or quiet crescendo, and then they give you a money shot. (My hummingbirds would never be so vulgar, this is a metaphor.)
In this piece, through all the edits, the ending had always felt rather flaccid to me (yeah, I'm going to keep it up [heh]: keeps the hysteria at bay). It limped across the line when the experience behind it deserved better. Over the last two days I have been trying to figure out how the birds and the night flowers and my layoff relate to each other, why they matter to each other. It felt like the crucial thing, but I seemed to just talk around it, instead of to it.
So, on the stuffy, drunkful lightrail, after some unpaid overtime and being too emotionally tired to self censor, I made some notes. Then I made some more notes, and some of the feelings from last year came back, when that hope I had for my applications was first snuffed out. I had kind of a breakdown on the drive home as the Fear bubbled up and out. But after the wave passed, I came upstairs and somehow wrote about endurance.
I'm not sure I can handle it if I have to have a breakdown each time to break through. I don't even know if it made the essay better or worse. But it's up and out now, and that feels better.