My favorite quote about the art of writing comes from Nora Ephron:
“The hardest thing about writing is writing”
It’s been eight months since I’ve posted anything on medium.com. EIGHT MONTHS! There are seven drafts waiting to be finished (or deleted). And if you know the size of a small Home Depot moving box, I have one that is full of nothing but ideas staring at me every day. It took that long, but particularly the last three days to decide upon the first topic. It’s taken half of a day to write and rewrite the title as well as the subtitle. And then there’s the formatting itself. Medium.com is a relatively easy platform on which to write, but you’re talking to Mister Low-Tech here. In this eight-month period, I have “amassed” 24 Followers. There are several friends and family members, to which I give thanks, but the lion’s share I do not know. I scratch my head and think, “why are they following me”?
Therein lies part of the problem. My self-talk tells me I’m not good enough to be a writer. I can never measure up to what all of these other immensely talented people are producing.
Thing is, I know how to write, but I am reading way too many articles on how I should write. Take the title for instance. Many say it should start with a number — people are naturally drawn to lists. I get it, but to me, that sounds like writing in bullet points, and this isn’t corporate America. So instead I referred to one of my musical icons, Alanis Morissette, and a song off of her new album entitled “Reasons I Drink”. That’s now become the title (if she’ll let me use it…do I need to ask her?) of another essay I hope to write. Okay, I’m starting to see how this works. It’s not plagiarism, it’s idea starters.
While my headline doesn’t contain a number, I have a list alright! Here are some of the reasons:
- Fear of failure
- Lack of confidence
- Telling the truth — it may offend some people, but it’s not writing if I’m not telling my truth
- What’s the use? What’s the purpose? So many better writers out there
- Popularity — what if no one reads it? What if I get no “likes”?
- Lack of discipline— I’ve not trained myself to write every day
- I’ll make editing errors, and I’ve always been known to be the grammar police by others
- Overthinking — I agonize rather than hit the “send” button
And then there are the distractions:
- Social media and news EVERY MORNING and THROUGHOUT THE DAY
- Email/Texting/Phone Calls/The Business of Life
- Porn/hookup sites
- I’ve played with numerology — I am an 11, which is a master number
- I’ve listened to tarot card readers on YouTube
- I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs test, and learned that I’m an ENFJ: “take time for yourself. You don’t owe people anything”. But I feel like an ENFP: “100% ideas, 0% shit done”.
There are a plethora of resources out there that can tell one how to be a better or more effective writer, but if I read all of them I’d never have the time to write. Is there room for stream-of-consciousness writing? As far as time is concerned, I’m pretty much retired (for the time being anyway), and can write any time of the day or night I want or feel. With the age of COVID, there’s really not much to do outside of your home. I almost never watch television.
It’s been nearly a year since I lost my son to suicide. I am dreading the holidays, as it occurred right in-between them. Since his passing, I have isolated several times, sometimes weeks at a time. I’ve experimented with a lot of recreational drugs, some that I’d never heard of. The only upside to that is that it curbed my alcohol intake to an extent. I self-sabotaged a job which I am so apt to do. I’ve had unsafe sex, and I fell in love with a narcissist who robbed me of my time. And I talk myself into thinking that I have no time to write.
I am not blaming this on Alex. It’s mostly me, and partly the all consuming difficulty of the craft. The need to get it right.
“The easiest reading is damned hard writing.” — Thomas Wood
While this is but a start, (or perhaps a reboot), I’m proud of the fact that, even though it took three days of reading, researching, and thinking, I finished something. That tells me I’m on the right track. This is who I am now. I have a story to tell, and that’s the reason I WILL write. It’s taken a lifetime to get here, and I’d like to take you, my readers, along for the ride. This is me.