When I Can’t Find My Words

“Write your story,” this WordPress composition page prompts me as soon as I finish typing in a title above. But what if I don’t have a story to write? What if I can’t find the words?

It’s kind of been like that a lot lately, I think. I’m having trouble finding the words. I don’t know what to put next; I don’t know what I want to say. I know I have things to say, but I don’t know what they are or how to reach them. I even made the mistake (again) of starting this entry earlier today, and thinking that whenever I got back to it later I would remember what I was thinking or have the same idea of where I intended to go.

Yeah—no. That didn’t happen.

So I know: I need to sit down and think, without thinking too hard, about what I want to say. I need to write it down, and then send it out into the world so it can get lost out there—and hopefully found again by somebody—rather than lost inside my head, never to be thought again.

Like I may be never thought of again.

But at least I’ll be leaving something behind when I go.

Nothing To Do But Write

I’ll never have those golden blank days stretched out in front of me, a giant desk in a country house with nothing to do but write.

So, as soon as I read the above quote by Dave Housley, from an essay in which he describes how he wrote his book in the tiny increments of time he was able to steal between everything going on in his life day to day, I felt guilty.

Or maybe I didn’t; the truth is, it was sometime last week, so I don’t remember exactly how I felt, though guilty is probably a good assumption, because every moment that I spend thinking about how I should be writing and how I am not, I do kind of feel guilty and want to berate myself for it. Not that that would change anything.

Guilty, because, see, if Dave Housley doesn’t have this huge chunk of time on his hands which he can use to do nothing but write if he wants to, and he still wrote a book and had it published—and I do have these huge chunks of time which I can use to do nothing but write if I want to, and I’m…not. Case in point.

Just to add to that is the fact that that free time was an enormous draw for me when it came to this job I have now: “I can read, I can write,” I remember saying. I can—but I’m usually not.

Maybe the hardest part is just sitting down and getting started. I remember another article I read—I do seem to read a lot of those—that basically said that if you just start working on something for five seconds, you’ll be more likely to finish it because you’ll get that momentum going. Maybe that’s what I need to focus on: just sitting down, and writing on whatever it is for five seconds, and then see what happens. If nothing else, I guess I’ll have something to show for those five seconds, however crappy the writing is, or however much sense it doesn’t make—and there’s nothing wrong with that, either!

After all. You can’t edit a blank page.

I’m here now. I’m putting in the effort, and what I’ll have to show for this is another finished blog post—my first one in longer than I’d care to think about. Here you are.

Time to go and write on something else now.

🖤

Inspiration Citations

The Rest Is Still Unwritten

Feeling pretty overwhelmed at the moment, and as a writer, that’s a dangerous state to be in. (Not the good kind of dangerous, either.) If I start thinking about how I should turn off Law & Order: SVU and go close myself in the study to write, I start feeling guilty for not doing exactly that. If I start thinking about all the work I have to do on Bailey’s story, all the revisions I have to do and the plot points I haven’t even hit yet, it starts to feel like it’s too big. Like I can’t tell the story; like I don’t have it in me to do so. When the truth is, I know I’m the only one who can. It’s the same for everything else I write, too, and all the things I want to finish, including the things I haven’t even started. And, thinking about all of them, it feels like there are too many and I will drown in these worlds I want to swim in.

It’s scary. Terrifying, even, because then I can think about what comes next. Finishing? Revising? Publishing? I’ve only just scratched the surface of this path I want to walk for my life, and suddenly it feels too long, too winding, with not enough reward to justify my going this way. (I know it’s not about the reward; the reward should be the art itself. But the world doesn’t account for it the same way the artist does.)

So then you can say, “It doesn’t matter what the world says. It’s what you say.” The same words I say to other people. But giving advice is often much easier than taking it, even when it’s your own. Yes; I know it is what I say to myself that matters, more than what anybody else says to me. But no matter what I say, if I feel scared, if I feel overwhelmed—what am I supposed to do?

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Well.

I guess I’m supposed to publish this, and then go write the next thing.

The Narratives We Tell Ourselves: “I’ve Been Too Busy”

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post. As a matter of fact, it’s been a while since I’ve really written anything that wasn’t class- or work-related in some way. I’ve been too busy.

Or have I?

It feels like I have, and, honestly, I have been busy. I always have a lot on my plate at one time. I’m a full-time college student, and I have to commute an hour to and from campus each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I have a part-time job. I have a relationship, and I have a pet.

It doesn’t sound like that much, does it? Well, let me tell you: it feels like “that much.”

So it’s very easy to just not do. Not read, not write, not blog. If I’m being completely honest, I’ve also reached the point of not doing my homework, either. Just shove it to the side along with everything else and say “I’ll get to it later” because I have so much to do that I feel too overwhelmed to do any of it. It took three or four days to write an eight-page paper, where normally it might have taken two, because I kept having to walk away from and get back to it because I have so much else to do, too. How many weeks have I been staring at the same To Do list, which has “blog post” scribbled on it?

I didn’t think it mattered all that much, just figured I’d get to it whenever things started to slow down (when—I may as well face it—I know they’re not going to). But I was on the phone with Nonnie on Saturday, calling to tell her I would come by sometime that afternoon to pick up the dishes that will go Dylan’s apartment, which I am about to move in to, and just before we hung up, she said she had something to tell me. I probably tensed, because usually when somebody says that, I automatically think it’s going to be a) bad news, or 2) something I don’t particularly want to hear, but then she said, “Now I’m not trying to get into your business, but, we really miss your blog.” She went on to say that the last one she and Papa had gotten from me was something about Dylan, and the last one I wrote about him must have been for his birthday in August, but when I was thinking about it on the phone I thought it was the one I wrote for his graduation in May—five months ago, and five months is an exceedingly long time to go, for a blog. Or even just for a writer in general.

So here I am. I am busy, yes, but to say that becomes nothing more than a flimsy excuse. A slightly more viable excuse might be “writer’s block” but I wonder if maybe Mr. Rozelle was right all those years at Brazoswood High School when he would say, “Writer’s block is a myth. Dentists don’t have ‘dentist’s block.’” I always came back with, “But Mr. Rozelle, dentists don’t have to be creative!” and while I still stand by that, the truth is, writers aren’t always creative, either:

Inspiration is a fickle friend, but discipline is not.

It’s not the lack of inspiration to blame for this very late blog post, or for the writing projects that patiently wait for me to revisit them. It’s the fact that I haven’t been working on them. Just that. Nobody and nothing to blame but myself.

So here I am.

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Where are you?