On Writing (and Not Writing)

Writing after so long, my joints feel rusted and achy. Sitting down to write even this took the effort of climbing a mountain (or at least a really tall hill) and the procrastination of a month. 

I hope that I can slide into my voice again like a pair of well-worn gloves, or find a new one that’s suitable. I hope my writing muscles haven’t atrophied and I’ll find my way again with some stretching, but for now, I feel adrift, and scared that I can no longer do the thing I used to do. That I can no longer claim my love of reading and writing when I no longer read and write.

Not writing has made writing terrifying. This document sat blank for weeks as I sat steeped in my terror before I could make myself mar the white sheet.

Before putting pen to paper, my pages of ideas are just beautiful potential swirling around in my head. Realizing them would mean to make them imperfect. What if I find I’m a worse writer than I used to be, after gathering dust? What if I am no better after all this time? I don’t feel very funny anymore.

Other things are just so much easier than creation. I’m learning Python and I have a job. During the school year I studied and did STEM. For all these things, I just follow the instructions, or memorize, or use the problem to find the solution. Writing and drawing is creating from scratch, and that’s harder and scarier. It means pulling things out of my own brain and examining them and I’m not sure I’ll like what I find. I read instead of write, and I don’t have to use my brain for that, I can just fall in love over and over.

Writing feels like a luxury of time that I’ve convinced myself I don’t have. In the race to go to the college I want, to get the grades I want, to be the living version of STEM, writing seems like a waste of time when I could be doing something “productive”. But when I know I will have time in the future, writing is the thing I look forward to. The dream of writing feeds me through the bleak months of the grind, but when I have time (like now, in this easy breezy summer), I don’t, because there are easier things, because I still feel like, I always feel like, I’m running out of time. 

And still I have a hunger for writing. It fills a space in me that has been empty for too long.

And still I feel written out. After writing essay after essay after essay for colleges and scholarships that all amounted to nothing, after the exhaustion of writing and building a version of myself that wasn’t a lie but felt too shiny, the dings and dents glossed over, I feel written out and dry. But I guess that writing isn’t this writing. This writing feeds, it doesn’t drain, even if it’s scary.

I think I need to make time to write.

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