18 Sep 2013

on not writing

I used to write fiction.

I mean, I used to write pretty bad fiction, but it was fiction nonetheless. You know, imaginary people doing imaginary things.

I haven’t written anything significant in a few years. Probably more than a few years. I could give you all the reasons why I stopped, what led me to this sad place, but I think, at the end of the day, I don’t write because I can’t pin myself down. I have limited hours in the day, and I’m doing a crummy job of giving myself the physical and mental space to get any complex thinking done.

Also, when I do manage to get myself in a chair and in front of that awful Blank Word Document, the ideas don’t come. I can’t remember how it all works – the characters, the settings. Everything my brain imagines seem thin and sad. Flimsy. I force myself to follow a trail, just so I can put some black words on that white screen, but nothing sticks, nothing lights a fire in me, nothing seems worth the sustained effort to just sit in front of the white screen. I find something else to do instead.

This is probably not a unique problem. This is probably the problem of every failed writer, every person who slowly abandoned a dream. I’d like to think I have more perseverance than an everyperson – I do a lot of bizarre things that most people would find undesirable and unpleasant. I have that capacity. I don’t know. I feel like getting older, people take on a subconscious task – the task of making living comfortable. Streamline their interests. Get those eight hours of sleep. Buying nicer furniture, a second set of bedsheets, a car, a boat, a private jet. I’m not opposed to nice things, to conveniences and luxuries, but I also catch myself devoting more time and money on such pursuits than maybe I should. Maybe I should divert some of my time, my money, and my attention back to that writing thing that I seem to want to still do despite all evidence that I can’t do it. Maybe I need to stop hiding inside my comfortable lifestyle and make sacrifices. Maybe I need to stop thinking about minutes and hours, about efficiency and time management and start thinking about showing up and daily practice and putting down words. About having faith that the ideas will come. About doing what needs to be done.

I’m not writing but I’m always trying to write. Sometimes that feels like a good thing and sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough. Maybe next time I stop here to write about writing I’ll have a different tune to sing. Maybe my dishes will be dirty in the sink, my eyelids heavy at work after late nights spent with words, my creative cup full to the brim. That’s still where I’m hoping to go.

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