August 22, 2021

A memory of when I would just sit down and write anything...

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A memory of when I would just sit down and write anything, not worrying about quality or what I might do with it, just to break the deadlock, a little bit, just to generate a little bit of movement within the paralysis I thought of as both my writing and my life. That was a long time ago. But now, simply because of a few minor literary successes, I feel I must write to publish, focus my writing energies on words that can become books, books I might wish to eventually shepherd out into the world. Now, when I try to simply write, aimlessly, almost about nothing, I find there is something stopping me, something about the writing that’s a bit frozen, that I’m not able to sufficiently let go, that I’m no longer able to feel it doesn’t matter, the words don’t matter at all, it’s just for practice, or just to see if I can. Before I had difficulty gathering all the fragments into something resembling a book. Now I have difficulty writing anything so careless and fragmentary without the overarching project of a book to motivate and give the words direction. And I miss that early carelessness. I miss how everything I wrote used to fragment almost against my will. Though at the time I didn’t appreciate it, wondered constantly how I could make my writing come together, make it more cohesive, find connections or some red thread that would go all the way from one end of its world to the other, draw some theme from beginning to end. Then I missed what I have now, what I felt uncertain I would ever be able to create, and now I miss what I had then, what I fear I might never be able to get back. But when I put it in this way it all seems much too neat and symmetrical. When it is of course no such thing. When I start a new book almost nothing is in place, but the more that gets put in place the less free I feel. At the beginning of the book I feel willing to try anything, but as the book progresses I develop more and more feelings about what I should and shouldn’t try. This is about writing a book, but I fear, more and more, that it’s also becoming true for me about living my life. I still take chances, but the chances I’m willing and unwilling to take become more clear, my feelings about such things more intense. This might be about building healthy boundaries but I’m not confident that it’s not also about a fear that creeps in which might be less than healthy. I do believe I’m still open. But there is now a different quality to such openness, more like I’m writing a book, less like I’m writing some fragments just to see if I can. How am I to understand such changes? To what degree should I work to undo them? Does my partial nostalgia blind me to the truth of the current situation? To what degree did youth culture shut down for me the potential advantages of gradually becoming mature?



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