Still Adrift

No matter how many times my lived experience proves otherwise, I still expect words to simply dance out of my fingers and onto the page every time I sit down to write, or my eyes to just roll back into my head and let the unconscious twitchings of my fingers pound out perfect prose. I’ve created this romaticized version of the kind of writer I was when I was younger, when I used to come home from school and, without even thinking, plop myself in front of the big 27″ iMac in our family room, open up a word document, and just go. Click click click clack click clack all the livelong day, never stopping to think whether what I was clicking and clacking was worthwhile or meaningful, whether it awakened the soul or enlightened the spirit or anything like that.

Now, I sit down in front of my laptop, open up a word document, stare at it for a minute or two waiting for words to come, start telling myself “you are a writer you are a writer you are a writer” over and over and over again (thinking that if I say this enough, eventually I’ll actually believe it and be magically imbued with the determination and confidence to shred apart the blank page with my words– although this has yet to happen), look down and realize I haven’t brewed myself a cup of tea yet, breathe a secret sigh of relief for having now found an excuse not to write, go downstairs, heat myself up a cup of tea, return to the computer with a renewed sense of zeal, feeling much more writerly now that I have a fresh, warm, steaming beverage cupped in my hands, spend some time basking in my very literary aesthetic, tell myself that I have a job to do and thoughts to express and no time to waste, return my gaze to my computer screen expecting it to speak to me now that I have shown that I mean business by getting a cup of tea, wait, take a sip of my tea, begin to wonder what time lunch is, realize that it’s in forty five minutes, tell myself that lunch will be my reward for putting something on the page, continue to put nothing on the page, wonder if perhaps it is the fact that I haven’t eaten lunch yet that is blocking my creative juices from flowing properly, and that maybe my writer’s block stems from a lack of ATP, tell myself that that’s the same excuse I make every day and that it’s never the case and that if I want to do this as a career I should be able to do it on an empty stomach, tell myself to shut up because I’m hungry and want a sandwich, then go downstairs and make a sandwich.

Ah, the writing life!

I don’t get it. How did Dickens do this?

I tried channeling my inner-Proust the other day by dipping a Madeleine into my cup of tea and seeing if that sparked anything. No dice. Perhaps a smiley fry dipped in some purple ketchup would suit me better. But they no longer make purple ketchup and smiley fries just depress me now– those happy faces have no clue what cruel fate awaits them on the other side of my gums.

Perhaps it’s just that some people were destined to live lives that needed to be written about while others of us were destined to be associate sales analysts. Not that there’s anything wrong with being an associate sales analyst, I’m sure it’s a very respectable and fulfilling career. I just have no idea what an associate sales analyst does or what kind of educational background they are expected to have. I just picked the three most boring words I could think of and squashed them together together into one job title. So, if being an associate sales analyst was indeed God’s plan for me all along, I’m in some real trouble.

I suppose that’s really my fear– that deep down inside the only reason I want to be a writer is because I can’t do anything else. And when I say that I can’t do anything else, I don’t mean that I can’t do anything else because I feel this deep, spiritual need to write and anything short of that will plunge me into misery and despair– “I cawn’t do anything else! I simply must get my thoughts onto the page!”– I mean that I literally cannot do anything else. Making snarky comments to myself about my flaws and then writing those comments down are pretty much the extent of my motive and cognitive capabilities if you don’t count standing in the pantry eating granola and using the toilet (I know I said in my first post that this wasn’t going to be an “I eat Cheetos like everyone else” blog, but in reality I feel like there’s actually a very strong possibility that’s what this will become. So what. Originality is overrated.)

All that to say that I’ve been going down this path too aggressively and for too long to turn back now. At this point, if writing doesn’t end up being my grand purpose in life, dying alone in a sewer likely is.

-S.P.

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