Half-Truths and Other Lies: Why I Write

I’m not so sure how to write anymore.

It’s like the words have come streaming out the tips of my fingers and disappeared into the abyss of Other Things: schoolwork and people and the future and worries and after-school snacks.  I can think them just fine, or at least as well as I could before, but summoning them up for more than a thought, hardly enough time to get anything out is impossible. Keyboard or pencil, doesn’t matter, I can’t come up with a beginning, middle, or end. They’re gone. Just like that.

It’s hard to imagine life without them: the emotions that aren’t mine but are just as good, worlds that make sense because I can control them, and the occasional spark of something that might actually make all the useless words worth it, the ever-elusive Beautiful Sentence. And yet I feel like I’m doing just fine.

Instead of the best way to write down an idea, other things skip through my mind. Crushes are no longer adventures in thinly-veiled, self-serving fanfiction. I can’t be serious on the page, much less funny. Essays are a struggle, tsunamis of overwhelming details washing over me and then receding into complete ignorance. Doesn’t matter what I read, either–Wikipedia articles or Ralph Waldo Emerson, the well’s just as dry as before. Sure, maybe the words skipping through my head are a little more high-brow, a little more intellectual, but no more inclined towards forming themselves into sentences of my own than before.

I lied when I said that I feel like I’m doing just fine. Sort of. It was a half-truth, really. I feel a little emptier. A little heavier, too, even though science and logic both dictate that I should feel the opposite. And I guess the words aren’t exactly dried up, either. They’ve just taken the form of lists, short and choppy, no element of style or truthfulness; just cold, hard facts staring you straight in the face.

So, what I’m saying is that I want my old words back. I want the sentences and the itching fingers. I want the pictures running through my head, like a flip book getting up to speed, an old-timey animation on real film, when I open to the first page. I want the shelves of the library to feel less like a public center smelling slightly of homeless-person-B.O. and abused pictures books and more like the Eden I remember it being, each book brimming with more possibilities than even the most perfect fruit, each ready for the picking.

I don’t want fifty thousand words to feel quite as impossible as it felt last year. I don’t want five hundred words, or three pages of double-spaced Times New Roman to feel impossible, either. I don’t want to box myself into lists made out of carefully-chosen bullet points, much less three word descriptions of tasks I don’t want to do.

For as much as I love paper products and perfectly straight lines and organization and knowing the entire month down to the hour, I still want the time-crunching freedom of writing short stories and novellas and maybe even, someday, a full-length novel.

There’s something else that’s killing my words, but I don’t mention that I’m starting to get tired of all these tired, old cliches. It feels wrong–I’m not nearly old enough for this kind of jaded cynicism. Even my friends are telling me that I’m a pessimist. My moderation is eating up my personality, my desire to be right is conflicting with my desire to be special. Yeah, sure, genre fiction is fun to read, but don’t I want to make a difference? I’m not sure anymore, and now I’m doubting that I ever was.

I don’t want to be a hipster about this, and I don’t want to pretend I’m any better or smarter or more aware than anybody else, because that would be a lie, probably drunkenly stumbling further into sarcastic joke territory that I’d like to admit. I just can’t convince myself that I can write something that’s not self-absorbed, fake deep, or just another regurgitation of the same old ideas I’ve had spit out in my face every time I opened a YA novel.

It’s easy enough to say I’ve got writer’s block. It’s a lot harder to say that I don’t know how or why or if to write anymore.

Mostly because I don’t know if the old feeling will ever be back.


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