“The greatest tragedy in life is to spend your whole life fishing only to discover it was never fish that you were after.”
— Henry David Thoreau
I used to write all the time. Ever since I can remember writing was my go-to form of expression, even when I didn’t know it. I would write about anything. My thoughts, my fears, something funny, something sad, boys, girls, teachers, music, my mom, MY DAD, my insecurities, my wants, my fantasies, my neighbors, my classmates, my hair, my boobs, my TV shows, my favorite movies, books, authors, poems, poems I wrote, poems I wished I wrote, San Francisco, things I love about San Francisco, things I hate about San Francisco, other places I want to live, places I want to visit, places I dream about, places that seem terrifying, places that seem like a dream, my dreams, my nightmares, my daydreams, my goals, my ambitions, my loves, my heartbreaks, my sadness, my joy, my depression, my happiness, my bitterness, my wandering eye, my lust, and most of all my future, my future and all that it might hold.
An endless list that now, much to my chagrin, never begins. The starting line is invisible, the inspiration vanished, the drive, the passion, the inexplicable need to write down what I thought or felt—gone. Lost without a trace. I can’t seem to start. I just can’t seem to find my reason, my desire (my mojo if you will), to write.
At first I thought this was prolonged senioritis. I graduated film school (woohoo!) and I thought, “all right I’m gonna take the world by storm! I can’t wait to start my life!” IDIOT. Somewhere between the immeasurable happiness I felt at the thought of never having to do homework again and my natural talent for procrastination—I forgot to actually start working on something. Before I knew it I was pulling out excuse after excuse—I’m focusing on work, I need to save money, I need to buy a car, I need a break from my last project, I’m looking for the right person to collaborate with, I’m gonna start a blog, I’m gonna do a website, I’m gonna write a musical, I’m gonna do spoken word, I’m gonna start performing again, I’m too attached to the feature I wrote, I wanna rewrite an old project, I need to brainstorm, I need a break, I need a vacation, blah, blah, etcetera, etcetera. Excuses, excuses, excuses.
As the truth started to creep up on me – that I actually had no inspiration to write—I started to fall into denial. My talent was there I told myself, I was just letting it rest. I wasn’t procrastinating, I was letting myself bank ideas, I wasn’t going to squander good material and just let it sit in my hard drive. I was saving my REAL work for a PAYCHECK. No more free shit. I wasn’t going to reduce myself to that amateur hour.
That’s what everyone does right? After “Art School” (I say it in quotes because what did we learn REALLY?? How to still function after drug binged all nighters? Completing assignments DURING class? Bullshitting an assignment on the basis of artistic integrity? But I digress.) you think you’re finally gonna get what you’re worth—you’re gonna get paid for your exceptional talent and everyone is gonna love you—but for a lot of people it turns into baseless self-loathing and the endless search for a job that will PAY YOUR BILLS.
There arose the second stage—what I thought was the real reason for my new aversion to writing—the need for money. Ahhhhh that deplorable, ever-alluring, all consuming need for that shitty green paper! If I had all the money in the world it would solve all my problems! IDIOT. Of course it doesn’t. I mean, look at Donald Trump’s hair. But again, I digress.
In my defense it’s a solid excuse. Money is not a commodity in this world—it is a necessity. You can’t do much without it. Sure, when it comes down to it people are scrappy and can get by, but the truth is that the way our world is progressing it is becoming increasingly impossible to get by without a sustainable source of income. And yes, A LOT of the things that I saw myself accomplishing require some healthy capital, which standing by my earlier principle of not doing shit for free, I was NOT gonna provide myself.
Then I started thinking I had to have a REASON for writing. Like a goal, a project, a purpose in mind I guess. Like I didn’t want to write if it wasn’t mapped out or something. Then I had too many ideas—a blog, a novel, a series of short stories, a short film, a book of poetry, a book of essays, articles, a book series— ugh the list kept going.
So three months bleeds into six, six into a year, and then before I knew it, it was two years since I graduated and I hadn’t written a single thing—not to mention made a payment on my student loans (let’s not even start with those vultures). Then the panic set in. “If I don’t start something now I won’t have anything to show for all this time,” was the mantra that arose, and in turn kept feeding the anxiety that kept me from writing. Another year creeps by. And the vicious circle continued.
I was suddenly faced with the cold hard truth—I hadn’t written anything because I DIDN’T WANT TO. Yes, I’d felt the lack of inspiration, I’d been zapped by the stresses of work and moving, and relationships, but in all honesty at every other time in my life all those types of things fueled my writing, they made me pour myself onto a page without fear or restraint. So why the writer’s block??
I don’t know. But I am writing to find out.