April 1, 2007
Hoping this makes sense ... almost certain it won't ...
Thinking about why I'm unable to write has had a peculiar effect on my writing ... it has become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Gone are the days when I thought of myself as a good writer, when I would revel in the absolute abandonment of conventions, pouring words out on the page like so much water without a thought of how I would wrap it all up in one cohesive piece. Was I a good writer then? Probably not, but I was prolific and I enjoyed it.
The day I learned about form, about how to write well, was the day I stopped just writing and began to feel the self-induced pressure to produce polished pieces. The day I felt overwhelmed by that pressure was the day I lost my freedom to just write. Knowing I have a limited emotional wellspring from which to draw has made me stingy with my words. While writing was my emancipation years ago, expecting myself to be good at it has slapped on a new type of fetter, one whose key I have not yet found.
This is where I blame my OCD tendencies coupled with an insistence on perfection, my all-purpose excuse ... but I do feel that I have transferred them to my writing, where each word must be the perfect choice for the moment. Each word must be precise, not be repetitive, mundane, or, God forbid, average. If I'm not careful, I'll begin counting my words, sorting them into neat little piles of nouns, verbs and dangling participles and storing them in jars in my closet.
Beyond this increasingly disturbing resemblance to Melvin Udall, I've also found that the harder I strive to make my thoughts clear, to try to explain my thought process to others that don't know me, the harder it has become for me to actually make a point. Because I am so afraid that I will face scrutiny and be found lacking, I am not able to write anything indisputable enough.
Are these just old insecurities rearing their ugly heads (my personal emotional Chimaera) or have I, accustomed to being argued with and constantly frustrated by my own inadequacies, grown an entirely new, all-purpose one? Am I over-analyzing again or is this a necessary (read normal) thought process? Is it just the mechanical efficiency expert in me wishing I could parse my thought process down to a concrete algorithm, one that could be applied to anything I am trying to say? If only I could use it as a litmus test before even trying so that I don't feel like I have to try so damn hard to explain myself to people that will never get it and don't really give a rat's ass?
As usual, I end with more questions than I began with. All I really was trying to do was to explain myself and I end up creating a little job security for my inner shrink.