Of writing and love

abstract_of_a_child

I haven’t written in quite some time now.

And every time I need to answer that cruel question, “what do you do”, I feel like dying.
I don’t know what to say anymore.
I do not write. How can I call myself a writer?

All I do is sit in front of the screen, scroll a bit, and then retire to bed hoping for a better day.
I may like to revel in the romanticism associated with being a writer.
Truth is, I am a sham. I am not a writer. Or I would’ve found time for it.
You don’t need to make time for a lover.
A lover has your time, and you know it.
You cannot not make time for your lover.
Or he is not one.
A writer writes because she cannot not write.
Because she is in love with the act of writing. Because the very thought of not writing one day is enough for her to stop breathing.
Because to go on without your lover wouldn’t make sense, would it.
No. I am not in love. For had I been in love I wouldn’t have been forced to write this piece of crap that I am at the moment.
I am a crappy writer and I know it.
I am a fake. I am a sham. I call myself a writer. But I am anything but. I am anything but.

I have always been afraid, afraid of being myself.
Afraid of being called a woman.
Weak. Indecisive. Meek.
Afraid to be associated with women.
Always felt this deep-founded desire to prove something to the world- to men.
That I could do whatever a man could..
And so. Just like that.
I stopped being myself.
I pushed myself so far down that it became almost impossible for me to lift myself up again.
In trying not to be who I was, I became who I never wanted to be.
I became weak. Meek and a failure.
I became what I detested the most.
Only because I didn’t want to become who I was.
And I am still trying.
Even after all this, all this fear and doubt and failure and rejection.

Oh but if I’ve learnt anything, it is this.
This fear of mine is not unfounded.
And it is not because of you.
It is because of this absurdity.

And me.

And it will linger.

Another one of those days

I had a very long, very lovely discussion with a friend yesterday. She’s just finished the first draft of her book and we were talking about how maintaining a daily writing schedule and then sticking to it can help discipline an aspiring writer to actually get some work done. But this was about writing specifically, a topic that can be left for another post, another day. The dilemma that yours truly is facing right now is much more daunting than anything else. And the need to discipline myself is perhaps greater than ever before. You see, I have an exam to take in another three weeks or so…. an unfinished accountancy degree that needs to get done with; if for nothing else but the sake of personal satisfaction. Sigh.

So I have not left anything to chance this time around. Preparatory classes have been taken, (useless) books have been bought, study desk has been arranged/rearranged a million times or so, (useless fancy) stationary has been bought; have even managed to get myself a set of highlighters that i am especially proud of (an old fetish). Some very useless activities have been indulged in, but but there is one thing that’s unfortunately lacking… the will to actually get down to studying. The fact is that when you start going down that road again after a lapse of about seven years or so, you do feel a little overwhelmed if not much. Petrified, even. I literally dragged myself to my study table yesterday but except for some inexplicably sudden palpitations and extreme anxiety nothing else was achieved. The fear of studying is too great to handle, too real, too retarded. And to top it off, I start feeling sleepy the moment I so much as manage to open my books. They are like these natural sleeping pills that always seem to work on me.

Starting from today however, I do intend to keep a regular record of what I have or have not studied (go on, laugh all you want..hrmph). Better still, I may try and write about my (non) progress over here as well!! That might keep me motivated.

Damn. The only thing I want to do right now is curl up in my bed, with a steaming cup of coffee and a good book. And all I am stuck with is group cashflows and accounting for financial instruments. Yuck.

In Pursuit of Words

 

Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all”
― Charles BukowskiThe Last Night of the Earth Poems

I have recently made a ritual of meeting with my computer every night, in the anticipation of putting something on to that numbingly blank Word page. Most nights however, I wind up our tête-à-tête with growing disappointment.

Like many things in life, I’ve never sought an acquaintance with writer’s block, but the damn thing is now a staple, and time—that goon— stubbornly refuses to reverse itself.

The “creative block” has happened to almost every writer at least once in their lifetime. There is a reason why Neil Gaiman found writing to be “a very peculiar sort of job” and Stephan King wrote, “You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will”. I believe that writers are blessed with the ability to listen to an inner voice and then to subsequently convert that voice into words, making it accessible to the world. The likely notion of never being able to come up with another word is terrifying — often to the brink of paranoia.

S.T. Coleridge, on his 32nd birthday wrote (largely to himself), “Yesterday was my birthday. So completely has a whole year passed, with scarcely the fruits of a month! O Sorrow and Shame — I have done nothing!”

So why does it happen? There was a time when I still listened to my voice and was quite proud of it too. But then something happened — my words just stopped making sense. In my mind I knew what to write but the words just did not come out as aesthetically pleasing on paper as I’d like. It is ridiculously obnoxious to endure the dilemma of sitting alone and focusing on what needs to be said when you’re completely lost for words — a predicament that can only be understood by those who’ve looked into the abyss.

Some say that the extended writer’s block most writers swear to have gone through at some point may be nothing more than a product of self-doubt. It was Sylvia Plath who wrote that “the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” The amount of angst a writer experiences when alone with nothing but a computer’s keyboard to communicate with is inexplicable. Add to that the misery of uncertainty and you have a blocked mind. As observed by Pulitzer award winner Norman Mailer, writer’s block is nothing but the failure of egoThe feeling of self-doubt will only affect those who feel that their work is somehow lesser than the work of others, those who stop taking pride in what they do. Having a considerable amount of self-confidence in whatever a person creates, seems vital for being able to proudly present the end result to the world. To listen to that inner voice and translate it into language is something that requires effort, stamina and to a large extent, bravery.

Then there are those contemporary writers who believe that writer’s block is a self-created concept, invented by writers who are plainly incapable of handling the huge responsibility that comes with being a writer. This includes bestselling authors like Terry Pratchett, whose famous line, “There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write” made waves when first spoken. These writers incessantly argue that you’re either blessed with the gift of writing or you’re not and that there is no such thing as simply forgetting how to give words to your “voice”.

Such is the paradox of man’s creative process.

Whether writer’s block exists or doesn’t, whether it ought to be given more credence or not, the truth is most writers have been plagued with this dilemma ever since the first word was written. Somehow a mere incapacity to write cannot suffice as the only possible explanation. As for me, I believe that after a while your voice just plain abandons you and gets mauled by the thousands of “others” around it that always seem mightier than your own.

But I do not like being in this state of helplessness — it leads first to anxiety and then eventually to despair, from where there is seldom any return. One thing is certain, it will not stop me from continuing these meetings with my computer, however unproductive they might seem. I am quite sure that someday the words will start to flow. They just have to.

Perseverance, they say, is one of the best natural remedies for writer’s block. I think that will have to be my answer, if only for the moment.

— This piece was originally published in The Missing Slate’s Web Issue http://themissingslate.com/2012/08/27/in-pursuit-of-words/