If anyone asks me why I feel the need to write, I usually say it’s just because I enjoy it. For me it’s what other people get out of their hobbies – football, rock climbing, golf. It passes what little spare time I get and I derive a sense of satisfaction from it. This, however, is simplifying it to the extreme.
The truth is, I don’t always enjoy it. I suspect the reason I persist with it is much more complicated than that. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when the paragraphs just seem to form themselves. It flows, and it’s effortless, and that is quite exhilarating. There are other days where it seems like it would be easier to chisel out my own tunnel across the river with a plastic spork. I sit and stare at a blank word document, putting down one or two words and deleting them again over and over. On those days it frustrates me to the point of never wanting to do it again.
In all honesty, I don’t know why I keep coming back to it. There are not that many things I’m any good at, but there are enough for me to have chosen something else to concentrate on. What I do know is that when I’m not writing, I get irritable, restless, a bit depressive even. I’m not about to say that I’m compelled, that it’s my destiny or any shit like that – I’m not that pretentious. But there is something in the fact that putting words on a page acts as a mechanism for me that helps me out in general. What I mean is, I’m not great at articulating myself verbally. I’m one of those internalisation types, I take in what’s happening but often don’t comment on it. When I do, I’m left feeling like I didn’t quite manage to express what I thought clearly enough. Even inside my own head, I struggle to get exactly what I think about something truly straight. Put it down on paper, or on a laptop screen, and suddenly I know precisely how I feel about it.
Is that weird? Well, not as weird as some of the other things that writing entails. I put a comment up on another blog yesterday that got me thinking about this: I was sitting in my office, a few days ago, trying to write a paragraph that conveyed what dejection feels like. I’ve felt dejected often enough, but the only way I could think of trying to get at it in words was to recreate the feeling somehow and then explain it. So there I am, a grown man sitting in a room on his own, thinking of all this shit that has happened to me, to other people, forcing myself to feel bad about it, basically giving myself something close to a panic attack, just so I can write down how that feels. When you get to that point, you do stop and wonder what the fuck are you doing? Is this healthy? It certainly doesn’t seem normal.
I mean, yeah, writing can be cathartic. I know some people use it as a type of half-arsed self-psychiatry. But going back over old ground, things that you’ve already worked through and resolved, just to get a few sentences together in a book that hardly anyone will ever read – now that’s more than a bit nuts when you think about it…
I’ve not been sleeping that well recently, and I suspect part of that has to do with this thing I’m working on. I know for sure that two nights I was tossing and turning in bed with stupid plot ideas running through my mind like a swarm of insects. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get them out of there, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Other nights, I suspect it’s just been because I’m writing about depression, about violence, about things that aren’t very pleasant. Despite the fact these things are fictional, despite the fact none of them are going on in my real life, I suspect the distinction isn’t that clear in a brain that’s spent a significant amount of time thinking about them that day.
Maybe I just need to write a comedy instead. The thing is – and here is the pretentious bit – it doesn’t seem like you get to pick. This was the idea I had, the only one that had any longevity, the only one that moved on from an initial idea to a second idea, and a third. So if I don’t want to irritate myself again by not writing, then I’ll have to push on with it.
What a whinging bastard I am. Poor me. It’s not like I’ve just lost my job, it’s not like I have a debilitating illness. Everything in context. I’m not even really complaining to be honest, I just fucking hate writing at times…