I’m suffering right now from excruciating writer’s block. I have a million things I should be working on, and several that I actually want to be working on, but I can’t seem to focus.
Something is wrong. It isn’t time yet. I don’t feel ready.
Or is this just typical procrastination nonsense?
I’m afraid of something. I’m afraid that I will go off the rails again. That if I try I will produce and produce and produce. That it never stops. It never stops. There’s always more to do, more to read, more to know, more to research, more to understand, more to say, more to write.
Things are always changing.
How do I write something down that will matter to others later? I can’t even write something down that matters to myself.
I sat down—enthusiastically—to write a little blog post about myself.
As soon as I started putting words down, as soon as I started seeing my thoughts take concrete form—hang on.
It wasn’t my thoughts I was worried about. I know my thoughts.
It was my presentation.
As soon as I started imagining how a reader might respond to my writing, I started to self-edit, self-critique—enthusiastically.
Like it’s a bad idea to blog because then people might discover your mistakes.
My mistakes—mistakes in judgment. Character flaws, shortcomings. Sins.
Memories that tumble into melancholy.
Still I want to talk to people. To speak to people about things that actually matter, really actually. About living and dying, and the good things in between. And even the bad things.
I’ve read a few books—more as a boy than as an adult; I used to plow through the library but now I fear it as a place of unending labor—and my general impression is that readers can get to know authors very well.
And isn’t that what writing is about? All communication, really. We want to be heard, to be known, to be recognized and hopefully received.
But do I really want to be known? At all? I’m not talking about stardom—though I indulge in occasional fantasies of fame and fortune, of course—I’m just talking about you seeing me for who I really am.
The thought is terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.
So can we talk? Can we just talk?
Let me just tell you who I am—not what I do or where I live or the things I like but who I am—so you can decide if you’re interested in listening further, because I do have a thought or two I would like to share with the right people. I’m not sure how to find and reach all of them. Some of them haven’t arrived yet. Some of them will soon be gone. Some can’t hear me. Some can’t understand. But one day they might.
That’s the beauty of written words: they linger. All words endure time and space, but written words linger. They are fragments of a mind. Aggregated in sufficient quantity they can be used to build an accurate model of the writer and her or his community, as long as the language endures.
30-year-old me isn’t proud of 19-year-old me.
So I don’t know how 50-year-old me will feel about 30-year old me—provided he retains an opinion, or even exists.
So you can imagine the bind I’m in—here I am, all bottled up with things to say, and I’m paralyzed at my keyboard because in some indefinite future some hypothetical person might harvest my thoughts and reject my being.
I’ve got the worst case of writer’s block.