Blank Page vs. Your Mind
More often than not, writing sucks. So why do I write? I’ve been sitting at my laptop keyboard, staring at a blank page for just under an hour now. It seems, I’ve managed to fill the screen with a couple sentences now, that doesn’t really mean anything though. To clarify, I did the same about ten minutes ago, got about this far, and then deleted everything I wrote. Thanks to the handy CTRL+Z command, I managed to recover that attempt.
Here is what it said:
“Somewhere between where I’m sitting now and wherever I’ll wake up a year from now, lies a whole lot of unknown. I often imagine what it might have been like being able to write myself a year ago, explaining what life would look like”
In fact, I didn’t even finish the sentence, or use a period at the end of that thought to signal some kind of finality to you, my most esteemed reader. In some alternate universe, I might be writing about the ability to travel forwards and backwards in time, where apparently I’d use that precious ability to write myself a blog post, where I try to explain social distancing, the “new normal”, etc. How drab. Enough is enough already.
I think I understand why I decided not to go down that route and instead selected all, and hit my backspace key. Because I think in almost every permutation of word combinations I can currently imagine, wherever I was heading, would be dry and fairly uninspiring.
Hard On Myself
Although, by harshly criticizing a writing direction that I didn’t even give a chance to come into fruition, at least not in this version of reality, I’m not leaving enough room for what could have been. Perhaps writing about why I write is in fact going to be dry and uninspiring, whereas my other direction might have altered the course of your life. It might have created some fantastic insight, allowed you to explore the confines of your chronos while simultaneously inspiring some radical shift in paradigms.
Hence, it is in being able to step back objectively, acknowledging my own self-critical assumptions, while subjectively deciding to continue down this path I’m on, that helps me point out why I write. I could erase absolutely everything I’ve written so far, never tell you I was staring blankly at my screen, or that this post almost took a completely different direction, and you’d be none the wiser. Maybe it’d be better that way? See, there I go again. Creating unanswerable questions, in a context of unimportant circumstances. This is why I write. I can better see these self-made mental traps when they appear visually in front of me.
So long as I have the ability to question my decisions, while simultaneously inevitably having to make them, I’ll always have shreds of doubt that creep up. That nagging “what-if” feeling, followed certainly by hints of “I should have”. When I go back in time by re-reading things I wrote years ago, it allows me to see the person I was, more specifically, it shows me the person I was trying to be for you at the time of writing.
Faking Past Now
In other words, I know, and have known who I am, and will continue to learn who that person is, so as I read something I wrote years ago now, I can instantly smell, taste, feel, and\or shudder at all those things that now seem incongruent with what I believe to be the authentic and present version of me.
That is to say, writing is the tool that allows me to create small time-capsules of content, the who\what\where\when of life in the given moment, while also capturing introspective microcosms of my current state of being, the how.
How to Write Something Worth Reading
In order to write something worth reading, it is important to be vulnerable whilst remaining entertaining. You have to let your guard down, and try your best to be completely yourself, while remembering all the rules you learned to remain coherent and communicative, while simultaneously breaking all the ones that let your own personal “writing voice” come through. It’s like wearing a uniform in a fashion that allows you to march with the masses, but not wearing it so plainly that you can march by without being noticed or remembered.
In effect, I believe it is this necessary yet ungraspable polarity that creates an unbearable dissonance which causes many of the most talented writers to appear as the vacuously wandering tortured souls that they often do. Award or not, I won’t even put myself in the “most talented writer” category and still often think I tend to appear as one of those aforementioned souls.
” But it is hard, bitterly hard work. As Hemingway is reported to have said, “It is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed.” Internally, of course. On the outside all that is visible is cold sweat and a distracted air.”The Craft of Fiction by William C. Knott
In short, I write because writing allows me to capture some of the thoughts and conversations I want to have, when I have nobody to share them with aloud. Not to mention, writing is the closest thing to time-travel I’ve ever consciously felt, and I’m fascinated by time, especially when I can experience it in a non-linear way.
There is something truly magical about language, that I’ve always appreciated, whether it was spoken or written. The world is made of words, and I truly believe we live the story we tell ourselves, plus we’re all just stories in the end, so better make it a good one.