Monday, June 18, 2012


Writers need to write.

The sentence has two meanings. The literal meaning is, simply, that if you don't write, you're not a writer. You must do in order to be.

The other, of course, speaks to the innate need to write. That need to write, to put words on paper (or letters on a screen), is what makes a writer a writer. It's more than the act of writing - it's the wrangling of words and capturing of thoughts and the emptying of all the noise and chatter of your soul into a neat little package of sentences and paragraphs. Free the thoughts so that you can be at peace, until the next wave of thoughts begin.

Either way, lately, I have failed as a writer. I'm not writing. Anything. I come up short every time I try. I start writing a post and realize that whatever I need to finish is on my other computer, so it's going to have to wait until I can get to it. Except I never do. I'm exhausted and unmotivated. Quite frankly, I think I just need to curl up and sleep for an entire day just to feel remotely human again. I've been running nonstop, and I feel guilty if I slow down. If I stop to do the things I want to do, I feel guilty for not doing other things I should be doing. I'm a grownup. I should be doing dishes and cleaning out my car and putting laundry away and combing my cat and this and that and it's completely irresponsible to read or write or check facebook/Twitter/Pinterest. Guilt, guilt, guilt. I feel guilty for touching my computer when I get home. I feel guilty for doing anything that I want to do, instead of what I should be doing or am expected to be doing.

You know what happens when I let that happen, when I run nonstop and don't take breaks for myself? I start to shut down. Pretty soon I'll be a hysterical mess buried under pillows and hating the fact that the world even exists and how dare it encroach into my existence?!

I'm being dramatic. I know this.

I feel stuck. Is it work? Is it my extracurricular activities? Is it this, is it that? I'm neglecting everything and everyone, but I can't seem to account for where all my time goes. I want to run away but I'm not sure where I'd go. I can't escape myself. There are numerous cliches that remind me of that.

So, I haven't been writing. I'm feeling the itch. One of my coworkers started a book club and because I can't say no to anything (and also because I was hoping it would force me to actually take time to read, because I miss it) and the second book is Fahrenheit 451. I was quite pleased, because I've already read it. I'm ahead of the game, right? Nope. It's been probably five years since I've read it. I want to re-read it. I've made it about six pages in and all I can think about is how much Ray Bradbury makes me want to write. I started writing a post last week (or was it the week before?) after he passed away, hoping to capture exactly how much he inspires me as a writer. I felt like his book Zen in the Art of Writing was pulled largely out of my own thoughts and feelings and sentiments. I'm digressing. But it makes me miss writing fiction. I always wanted to write a novel. Fuck, I don't even care if it's good, anymore, or even publishable. I just want to write a full story that makes it all the way to the end. Closure. Completion.

Every day I don't write feels like a day I've failed.

Even on this blog. I haven't written my Vegas recap(s) yet. I've started a Word document. I told myself I was waiting for me to get my pictures sorted and pulled together. The first half have been posted to facebook. So I could write about Day 1 and Day 2 and have the pictures to back it up.

Have I? Obviously not.

I'm tearing my hair out, with being unsettled and lost and directionless. Where do you want to be in ten, twenty years? What's your endgame? It's a conversation I've had a few times lately. I don't know. My first thought is that I wanted to sit at home in my pajamas and write books all day. I didn't even say that out loud, because it's stupid and impractical and financially idiotic and, really, I probably belong at a desk, staring at spreadsheets and answering emails. I don't feel qualified for anything other than what I already do, but whether or not it's even possible to do this for another decade is up in the air. Culture shifts, economies shift, companies change. Maybe my position won't even exist in ten years. Then what? Fuck if I know. But I know I'm not planning ahead and I'm spending most of my time just getting through each day, hoping that eventually I'll have an epiphany on where I'm actually going.

It's exhausting.

I might try doing that thing that smarter people than myself do, where I schedule a time onto my calendar each week, a time designated for writing, or reading, or fucking around online. I can schedule a time and hope that it fits into the schedule of my muse, otherwise I'll be staring at a blank screen for an hour, but I suppose even staring at a blank screen is more forward momentum than ignoring it altogether. It's worth a shot, right? I can give myself assignments. I need to write about Vegas, I need to finish and post things out of my drafts folder, I need to catch up with myself. Maybe write a bunch of short stories and then maybe once I have that arsenal, I can poke around for somewhere to send them. Maybe someone will publish one. Maybe I'll feel a little bit of a sense of validation. Maybe that will keep me going.

I need to do something. I've somehow convinced myself that my creative pursuits are frivolous and thus not to be given importance, and I'm seeing now what happens when I view them that way: I start to fall apart. Because if I'm not creating something, I'm not really living. I'm just going through the motions. And I don't want that sort of life. I don't want to stumble through it until suddenly I'm old and full of regret for not listening to what my heart wants.

And my heart wants to write.

I guess this post is a start.


chimes said...

I'm sooooo glad to see that you're back to writing.

Here's the deal: Your hobbies could become your career. I am not a writer, but my blog was good enough to give me enough clout to be hired to write things.

Also, life sucks without hobbies. Don't feel guilty for doing the things you want to do. We have 3 or 4 weeks of clean laundry sitting in a pile because there are so many things we'd rather be doing than putting away laundry. My place is a mess. Life's too short to miss out on things because you're busy combing your cat.

Maybe instead of scheduling time for specific things, just put time on your calendar for you — maybe you do the dishes, maybe you spend an hour on pinterest, maybe you spend an hour holed up in your room in a pillow fort. The point is — it's YOUR time and nobody is judging you.

<3 PS I can't wait to seeeeee you next weekend.

Ashley, the Accidental Olympian said...

It IS a start. Write. Write anything. A sentence, and caption, a poem, a "hello." We're here waiting.

Ashley said...

This happens to me too, and the feelings behind it can be so complex that it's hard to sort out. I think the voice saying it's not important is usually my own fear about not being good enough. I try to be kind and patient with myself, but also persistent about making writing a habit. Hugs!

Colby Vlietstra said...

I'm not going to lie, I would blame the job! You work so hard day in and day out for very little. I know you enjoy it for the most part, but they dont really appreciate you the way they should! I know you love the people, but you should start looking for something that you will LOVE! Something that makes you happy and doesnt run you dry.

I think you are so amazing and talented! You have so much more to offer this world and a better company that would appreciate you for the AMAZING person you are...

Thats my two cents! Again..your awesome :) in case you didnt get that in the previous sentences.

Cat said...

sometimes this happens to me when i need to write a specific thing and i am afraid too. my most recent post is a good example of that.

other times, it's easy to get caught up in the idea that writing just isn't a practical use of time. but the thing is, for us, for writers, not writing just turns everything else into oatmeal. i make myself write FIRST. so then i attend to all those practical things with a clean heart and a clear mind, because i took care of myself before i tried to take care of business.

sometimes i write allthebadthings and then burn the pages, just so i can think.


Steph A said...

It seems like all the great writers are very disciplined about their time. They set aside certain hours of each day that they dedicate to writing. I've been thinking of forcing myself to use my lunch break every day to write. One tip i have for you: don't use Word document, use Google documents. That way you can access them from any computer (and if your compy dies, your document still exists).

Tori said...

I second the recommendations of Google Docs. That way you have all your documents on any computer with internet access and there's no excuse for you not to continue working on them.

Also, it's okay to take a break once in a while. You're tired, you're busy, you're burnt out, whatever - sometimes, you just need a break.

But I'm glad you're back! ♥