I tell myself all the time that I don’t have time to write. That I don’t have space. That I don’t have enough unbroken minutes and silences to sit down and really work. Which is somewhat true. But what’s also true is that I feel foolish about writing. Really. Foolish. Because the voice inside me, the same one that says that I must find meaning, says this is meaningless because isn’t the whole human project meaningless anyway? And so I am silenced by an inability to take myself seriously in the face of the death-reality of human life. What a thing to face mortality every time I sit down to write!
Silencing that part of myself seems nigh impossible – especially these days with all the philosophy-reading and life introspection my grad program requires. Rather than turning off the questions, I feel like the universal taps have been left wide open and I am being flooded with rivers of why and how, and not that! Not quite drowning, though drinking enough in to get water poisoning overtime. I suppose that one way to get through it is to create characters who ask these questions and beat themselves up – therefore at least getting something productive out of my self-questioning. Making poetry out of existentialism though? I don’t know how to do that without sounding pretentious.
I suppose another problem is that I’ve fallen into the distraction trap of the Internet and writing means removing myself from some other pastime that I think I’d rather do. But like my channel-surfing teenage self, I don’t really want to spend my time in the zone of random information and video – and when I’ve spent an hour or two at it I really feel like I’m letting my life drip away, no matter how current or important what I’ve been looking at seems to be. When I putter in the garden for two hours, when I spend an hour organizing the kitchen, when I go to a coffeeshop and write pressingly into my notebook – I don’t feel like that. So what makes the Internet (or television for that matter) so compelling? I don’t think the answer is laziness but something else. Something related to my first point above and also to the fact that life (and all of these activities I just listed) requires a lot of work to make a go of anything. And also, it takes a long time to get really good at things. So rather than laziness, I think it’s more like inertia that keeps me glued to the Internet over living my real life. And once you get over that hurdle, the part that keeps one stuck down and unchanging, one is really over halfway to the point of producing. Bodies in motion stay in motion and all that.
Like right now, I was just sitting on the couch, vacillating between reading a really good book of current philosophical thinking on what makes us human, looking through some old journals and surfing the Internet. A part of me lately has been yearning to write, not necessarily even creative writing, but something that will give me an outlet for synthesis as I rack up ideas, images, arguments and (yes, even) self-doubts. The fact that I wasn’t settling on any one of the above things (reading, surfing, annotating past thoughts) tipped me off to the fact that I really wanted to be doing something else which felt more meaningful than any of those things. I could, of course, easily subsume that feeling into another round of Internet meandering, but instead I decided that although we have to go out shortly, and I don’t feel like installing myself in the silent studio at the moment – I could just sit up on the couch and write whatever came to mind. Which was this. Because I am attempting to figure out not only why I don’t write (and by that I mean – seriously, off the blog, developing narrative or at least lyric), but also why I am in a loop of procrastination in my life generally. It’s not making me happy – at work, or in my creative life – and yet there I find myself dog-paddling towards forty and trying not to have the predictable midlife crisis about it all.
Ultimately I think it’s about habits, and I’ve fallen into some rather insidious habits that allow me to stay in a mode of procrastination rather than moving out of it. I’m not really in the mood to make grand promises or pronouncements about how I’m going to fix myself (it is Saturday morning after all) – but I am simply making an attempt here to focus my own awareness on something that’s been eating at me lately. I need to write, I want to write, and yet I’m not doing it. And I’m not doing it because of existential issues, negative self-talk, and the lure of other things that involve a lot less effort from me. So there. That’s why I’m not writing, or at least part of the reason for it. Something that I would like to change about myself anyhow.
As the authour Jonathan Franzen said: “It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection is writing good fiction.”