My least favorite type of personal narrative are the countless pieces categorized under “writers on writing”. You’ve probably read these pieces before – sometimes beautifully written, slightly pretentious nuggets of prose about the struggles of putting words on paper or staring at an inert cursor on a word processor. I’ve actually been the writer of many of these pieces myself. I dislike these pieces, in part, because of why I write them. These words exist on my computer because when I have nothing else to say or no creative energy to explore, it’s just so easy to write about writing.
Unlike my parents, I’ve been privileged enough to live a life free of poverty, financial uncertainty and the physical violence of civil war. I’ve been given the space and creative freedom to analyze, dissect and question what I experience in the world without much fear. Any force that stops me from creating feels like a obstacle I’ve imposed on myself. The struggle I experience with writer’s block feels so lazy and self-indulgent – and so does writing about.
And yet here I am at 10:28 on a Sunday night resorting to yet another “writers on writing” piece in an effort to meet a deadline that I’ve placed on myself – Monday at 6:00 PM, sometimes sooner, sometimes later. These deadlines may seem arbitrary and I often have to remind myself that there aren’t any implications to missing a Monday or two. I know the world doesn’t stop, but it certainly feels like my world does. The quiet car rides from work on piece-less Monday evenings can feel like a journey rife in disappointment.
Ironically, I began the practice of Monday writing about 3 months ago on the suggestion of my therapist in an effort to avoid the feeling of personal failure. I started seeing her in the middle of last year to help me restore balance in my life. At the time, my life had become exceptionally work focused with little time for play and creation. Typically, when my life pivots from equilibrium, life doesn’t feel as joyful or wondrous. I can’t create unless I work and experience things. I can’t enjoy work or the experience of things unless I create.
In response, my therapist suggested that I create a schedule with concrete deadlines. I chose a weekly target, which is one of the best, yet most difficult practices I’ve tried to integrate into my life. When it works, I’m efficiently moving through my workday from Monday through Friday, trying to work as quickly as possible so that I have Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday to enjoy, think, craft, and write.
Then there’s times like tonight, when it is now 11:43 PM on a school night and I am sitting in my writing nook anxiously trying to get the cursor to move towards some conclusion, any conclusion. I don’t understand this compulsion to write sometimes – it’s a life full of rejection, forgotten words, naval gazing, empty audiences, constant revision, and perpetual (self) criticism.
But, I can’t imagine any other way of living. I’m sorry, world. Here’s another “writers on writing” piece. It certainly feels better than nothing.