On Writing

I’ve been on a real writing kick lately. They happen every so often, sometimes unexpectedly. Most times not. Meaning that usually some external pressure has forced me back into my writing corner. Sometimes that pressure is stress. Sometimes it’s insanity. This time it’s loneliness. For a month now I’ve been writing rapidly, furiously trying to fill a gaping emptiness. I’m hungry, but not in the way that can be satiated by food. It’s the kind of hunger that gnaws at my creative capacity. I yearn to write something…groundbreaking…profound…perfect…I. don’t. know. I can’t describe what I’m trying to achieve, but I’ll know it when I write it. And so far, nothing.

But that got me thinking. I mean really thinking. About my writing. I’m afraid. Fear is what’s keeping me from reaching that invisible goal. It’s like this fear of creating something so deep that it’ll drag me in with it. So immense that it’d be out of my control. So powerful that people halfway around the world will say, I felt that. But that’s a little self-righteous, isn’t it? To think I could even write something like that. It’s like being afraid of a fire-breathing dragon you aren’t even sure actually exists. You’ve only ever seen smoke.

I had this conversation before with my mentor, when I was still in the early stages of putting together my thesis proposal. He’d just finished ripping my ideas apart, limb from limb. He might as well have torn up the actual paper because I knew I’d hit a dead end. I knew it before I even entered his office, with my half-hearted thoughts scrunched up into 6 pages in my hand. Then he looked me right in the eye and asked me what was I afraid of. I didn’t have an answer. He then told me he could feel that my writing was coming up onto the edge of something, but backed away before it ever got there. He told me he knows if I can get out of my own way, something good will come of it. His parting words to me were, What do YOU want to write? Write it.

Two years later and I’m still trying to figure it out.

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