Thursday, March 14, 2019

Why I Don't Write

I believe strongly in the power of writing. Arranging one's thoughts to emerge through the pen or keyboard changes them, and causes the writer to actually examine them and, often in so doing, refine them. If you’re exceptionally fortunate, they do something for a reader as well.

The act of writing engages my inner critic. I compulsively backspace and re-type sentences, often multiple times. It takes me forever to get to a thought - much less through a thought - often to the point that it escapes into the ether as thoughts do before I get to a point. By now, this is already becoming self-evident.

Writing requires time, of which I have little, discipline, of which I have less, and a certain arrogance that people should know what is in your head (of which I have plenty, but it’s too busy fighting with the opposing self-doubt to be bothered to generate any motivation). 

See? See why I don’t write?

There’s a deeper reason though. The writing I want to do would create a great deal of vulnerability. The writing I find most valuable from others is that which exposes the core of their humanness - that thing we all share, that ultimately connects us. To share our fears, pains, and failures alongside our victories and glittering moments of joy with others is to connect ourselves and our readers to a truth that is both inescapable and profoundly hopeful - and can kindle deep gratitude for the privilege of experiencing even the adversities we face in our lives. 

I would like to write these kinds of things. Okay, but….

Truth is connection, and connection is truth. Connection involves others. My vulnerabilities are connected to those of others. To tell a meaningful truth makes the teller vulnerable, surely - but it also makes vulnerable those to whom the story connects. I don’t know how to tell my truth without exposing those I care about, and I haven’t got the right to do that without their permission - or maybe even with it.

Shrouding it in fiction depersonalizes it, and in some ways shields the writer from accountability. Attempts to preserve anonymity are paradoxically flawed - anyone to whom the truth would matter will probably figure out the person involved, and to anyone who wouldn’t figure it out even the name would be effectively anonymous.  

Ultimately, I don’t write because I’m the king of excuses - and I know that. This is, in fact, basically one long excuse that I’ve written. And now my brief window of time is closing, and with it this piece of what is certainly not writing. 

Because I do not write.