Well, I finally got a decent computer again, and I've been playing on it far too much.
I have spent so much time on the Internet this last week it is ridiculous. Even worse, most of that time has just been browsing and chatting, and nothing like the creative endeavors I told myself I would be hard at work doing once I got a better system. If I am to be using this expensive contraption I should be doing something productive with it. So, new resolution: I will become more regular in my blogging in order to keep myself writing and putting my thoughts together in a coherent way.
I think, in some strange way, I have been putting a mental block on my writing, as if I was afraid to do it. This is particularly ridiculous as I spent so many years writing feverishly. There was a time in my life where I truly believed that one day I would become a real writer. Those mythical creatures that get paid to produce their words. I even pursued those dreams, albeit with less energy in college. I took fiction and non-fiction writing classes, and I even applied, was accepted and participated in the non-fiction writer's workshop, although my work consistently disappointed me. Everything felt so rushed, or subject matters were too close, too painful for me to write about in a productive way. Since then, I have not really written anything that was not a class or work related document, with the exception of my early entries in this blog.
I remember one time, back when I was in counseling a few years ago, that I mentioned how sad I was that I never seemed to really write anymore, that I wasn’t being creative. I remember at the time the therapist pointed out to me that the programming and management practices I was designing were part of a creative process. I told him that I believed him, but I still felt like I should be writing, because it had been so important to me in my life.
“Maybe you aren’t meant to be a writer,” he said, “I wanted to be one too, when I was your age. That doesn’t mean that that’s what I should have done.”
I agreed that it sounded reasonable, but that I still felt the same way. Somewhere, though, deep down, I think a part of me began to believe him, and over time I found myself justifying what was lacking by saying I had found new creative outlets that were fulfilling.
It was not enough. I think my closest friends began to worry. I could hear it on the phone in my friend Quentin's voice whenever he asked me, "Have you been writing?" Maybe I imagined it, but the way the question was asked always seemed to carry extra importance in the conversation. Maybe it only struck me that way because I knew how important it was to me. My answer would always be quick and either skirt around the issue, or provide unnecessary justification for not producing any written work. In fact, over time I came to dread that question and even detest it a bit. I told myself that my friend was trying to hold me back, trying to trap me in an old model of myself that I had outgrown. At times the question almost made me snap at him in response. On the phone I would close my eyes and breathe deeply before I answered him.
Then, a couple of months ago, Quentin sent me a story he had written for me to read and give him feedback. I set aside a couple of afternoons to do a close reading of the material and was so excited about what I found in it I covered the manuscript in notes. What he had produced was very good, and I saw so many amazing possibilities in what he had begun I could barely keep my voice under control and steady when we talked on the phone about it. By helping out in this fashion, I had rediscovered my love for the creative process of storytelling. I resolved to return to writing myself and ride the wave of this excitement.
But I didn't. I set aside time to write, and watched movies instead. I told myself I would work on at least plotting out a short story, and instead I reread old books in my home library. I went out drinking and danced at raves, and eventually, with the exception of a few blog entries that quickly dried up and stopped, I forgot about it and went back to my life. I didn't write anymore, it was too exhausting, and it tasted of broken dreams.
A few months ago, I began to write a short story for the first time in years. Or rather, it was a series of scenes intended to sketch out characters for a short story, and for those few hours it was the most invigorated I had felt in a long time. I was so excited I gleefully began mentioning it, I felt comfortable saying that I was writing. But that was the problem, it made me comfortable saying I was writing, but I didn't write any more of it. I didn't even try, I made many excuses and I spent a lot of time telling myself I didn't need to write it so not to worry. After all, I have a career path planned out for myself now. With some hard work I could really advance and travel in my industry and maybe branch out into consulting, I was not going to be a writer! So why fret, the writing was just for fun, so it didn't matter if I didn't try to finish it or not.
The real reason is that I was afraid. I wasn't afraid of rejection or failing to get published, to be honest I'm not sure I think I will ever be a professional writer, or even necessarily a published author. No, it was a deeper fear. Writing had been one of my dreams for so long in my life, it had defined me. I had said many times, "Writers have no choices, they either write or break their own fingers off. And even then they would type with their toes." And slowly, I had turned from that path, turned even from academia, gone into management and computer programming, which are fun and fulfilling in their way, but I still felt that I had failed. I had betrayed my dreams and I was lesser for it. But I still needed to write, I needed to feel that rush that accompanies creation. I knew I was not centered without it. But every time I began to write was stark reminder of all those old dreams and how far I had fallen from my goals.
I say, Fuck Fear. Fuck Regret and Fuck My Dreams.
Heinlein wrote, "Writing is easy, just cut your wrists and bleed."
I will write, I will create and I will live. And someday, I will be able to thank Quentin for reminding me of what I was missing.
It is very late for me now. I'm not going to proofread this before I post this entry. It feels better that way. Maybe I'll break down and edit it tomorrow, but sometimes its better to just leave the blood on the page. Good night.