I have had writing on my radar, as one of those “things I need to get back to doing,” for more months than I care to say. I figure the best way to break the drought and get back in is to speak the most relevant and obvious truth I have to share at this time.
I’m afraid to write.
Of course, this post is mostly a self-serving attempt to jumpstart my blog and my writing in general. But it’s also real. So bear with me as my silent therapist and hopefully I’ll get back to sharing stuff that will benefit others.
I’m afraid to write because I’ve tried starting so many times and just get sidetracked with life. I feel lamer and lamer each time I go back and try to restart. I am literally (and literally in the literal sense of literally) all words and no action. However many years old and ain’t wrote a damn book yet. Just trifling.
I’m afraid to write because I don’t know what to write about. Nothing exists that hasn’t already been explained to death, often by others who already didn’t have nearly as fresh a take on the subject as they thought they did. I don’t want to be the billionth navel-gazer, the billionth person to analyze parent-child angst, the billionth person to try to solve racial, economic, social, and political issues with a lucid analysis that makes each reader facepalm in epiphany and go out and heal the world.
I’m afraid to write because I’m afraid that I’m just talking to myself. There’s keeping a journal on purpose and there’s keeping a journal by accident because you can’t sell yourself and no one is paying any attention to what you’re saying.
I’m afraid of writing because there’s parts of my past that may not be as healed and tidy as I think they are. Around the turn of the year I started plugging away at a biographical novel that became very uncomfortable to write because it was bringing up emotions that I was not ok having a second or third time.
I’m afraid to write because we’re in the middle of the Coronavirus crisis and it seems facile and cliche to begin writing as a means of reflection “in this troubled time.” I’m so sick of all the descriptors in all the commercials and media, as if we don’t already have a baseline for what’s going on right now. I don’t need to hear “shit is crazy” or “in this troubled time” or those plaintive piano notes leading off those empathetic TV advertisements. I know what’s going on, and I don’t want to be one of those people adding to the chorus pointing out the obvious.
But I’m taking the best advice I can remember about writing: just write. It won’t be great at first–it may even be terrible. But keep doing it and you will find your way.
Also–I love writing. I hate constructing/outlining books and developing characters and any of the behind-the-scenes work. I hate seeing a deadline on a calendar or “clocking in” to write for the two hours I committed to writing today. Despise all of it.
But I love writing. I love sitting here and weaving my mental activity into a fabric of words for you to experience. That’s what has always let me back to trying it again and again. So I will keep trying until I get it right or I am unable to try anymore.
It might be a little less painful to push through the unsavory parts of the experience and get it right. What comes after will see if I convert on that understanding.