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.