I’ve spent 25 minutes looking at this blank screen in front of me. I don’t think I know how to string together a series of words anymore. It’s been at least two months since I wrote something, and even then I believe what I wrote was probably hot garbage. At this point in my life, I would rather be doing anything else than writing, and boy do I find some stupid things to fill my time: watch The Office for the thirtieth time, grab Ernie by the face and tell him that he’s a small baby man, organize my medicine cabinet, Twitter, Instagram, Twitter, Instagram, look through old emails by searching for keywords like “drunk,” “ugly,” “boyfriend,” etc., watch Parks and Recreation for the thirtieth time, eat everything then eat more, stare into the void. Anything to avoid writing.
So how did I get here? I wanted to be a writer from a young age. I wrote my first story when I was four. I took on massive debt to get an MFA in creative writing. I published a couple things. I submitted to dozens of literary journals. I started a blog. I applied to writing workshops. I followed other writers and journals on social media. I joined a literary discussion group. And I have very little to show for all of this. And I wish I could blame it on my circumstances, say that it’s because I have a demanding job and no time to write and too much else on my plate and blah blah blah. Those are all valid reasons for many people, but not for me. It’s all bullshit and I need to admit that to myself.
I don’t write because the things I have left to say are too scary for me to put down on paper.
Here’s the situation: I spent my twenties writing a good deal because I went through a lot. I felt like I could broach the issues I was facing with a fresh honesty. People sometimes even called me brave for laying bare my struggles: with my developmentally delayed/mentally ill brother, depression, loneliness, my childhood. I felt like I was truthful to a fault. But now that I’ve exhausted those topics, I realize something new about myself.
I am not brave. I’m afraid.
What I want to do is write about the things I think will make people stop loving me. I want to talk about drug and alcohol addiction, admit the complicated feelings I have toward my little brother’s illness, divulge the pain of growing up in a deeply dysfunctional family, recall my sexual past. If I was a stronger person, I would be writing about those things instead of writing about wanting to write about those things.
It all comes down to one thing though: my desire to write my truth is outweighed by my desire to be loved, liked, accepted. I don’t know how to change that, or even if I can.
I don’t want my friends to judge me, my family to shun me, my brother to be humiliated. I don’t want to feel ashamed or alienated. I think this is a quality that is missing from me, that many great artists have: they are willing to forsake everything for their art. I am not. And that sucks and I kind of hate myself for it.
Where does this leave me and my writing? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll write an essay about grocery shopping or create a listicle of my top favorite Saturday morning activities. Maybe I will wait until my parents die and then I can be free enough to write about my family. Maybe I will somehow magically stop giving a fuck about what anyone thinks when I turn 40. Or maybe I should just be ok with the fact that I am unexceptional.
I wish I had some clever, pithy, enlightened way to end this piece. I don’t. So I’ll just end it and hope I wake up tomorrow with something to say and the guts to say it.