On writing: a stream of consciousness

It’s one of those nights when you can’t make yourself write whatever it is you’re supposed to be writing. When you lay on the couch and press the button that says, “Yes Netflix, I am still watching. Yes, I know I’ve been watching for multiple consecutive hours. Yes, I know there’s definitely something better I should be doing with my time. But right now, right this minute, I’m going to continue watching West Wing and running away from my crippling insecurities.”

It’s one of those days when you know you haven’t written anything good. You know you haven’t written anything worth reading. You wrote an article, yes. It met the word count and it was submitted long before deadline, not at 2 or 3am when you normally turn in an article. But it wasn’t anything worth reading. It wasn’t particularly good writing. It was decent writing, submitted on deadline, content to entice readers, to gain views. You’re Hemingway when he wrote for the newspaper, before he published any stories. You’re writing to get paid.

It’s been one of those days when you wonder if you’ll ever actually be a writer who’s worth anything at all. When you wonder if you’ll ever write that one great article. When you wonder if you’re ever actually going to write the novel you keep telling everyone you’re going to write. When you wonder all day if anyone’s going to publish that story you think is really good.

When you fear that one day you’ll run out of ideas entirely. When you fear that someday you won’t be able to put words together anymore. And what if that day is today? What if I’ve run dry before I’ve even started?

It’s been one of those days when you wonder if you’re actually a good writer at all or if everyone else is just humoring you. If you’re just better than some and not truly extraordinary. Because that’s all you’ve ever wanted to be is extraordinary. Is that too much to ask? Perhaps.

It’s been one of those days when you wonder why you wanted to do this at all. Why you abandoned all other pursuits and chose to write. Do you really love it at all? Actually, that’s not even a question. You know you love it, but is it worth all this anguish? With a brain like yours, is writing really something you should be devoting your life to? A career that’s so based inside your head, which isn’t the best place to be. A career that’s so dependent on the acceptance and validation of others, where rejection is much more common than acceptance. Is this really what’s best for you, a hypercritical, overly sensitive fragile creature?

This would be agonizing if I didn’t know that this is the struggle of all writers. A constant paradox: the conviction that your voice is special enough to be worth hearing balanced with the conviction that nothing you write is worth reading. Walking the fine line between believing that you’re everything and that you’re nothing. Walking the tightrope of arrogance and self-loathing. I’m glad so many writers have written about these feelings because if I thought I was alone in this struggle I’d never have made it to my desk tonight. I’d never have sat down and put together words. And in the end that’s all that matters. Sitting down and putting words together to express a thought, a feeling. Hopefully in an order that makes sense to somebody.

I am a writer. I struggle to internally justify that existence to myself and the world. I want so badly to write that one thing that proves to everyone that I am a real writer, that I am really worth it. But I am already a writer. My mental anguish over being so proves it.

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