~scribbled in 15 minutes of agony ~
I don’t have time to write anymore. It was so easy a few years ago. Now no.
No personal essays, no inquisitive freelance investigative pieces, no nothing that could be placed sitting pretty on a portfolio as something that could give Pulitzer writers blasting on Twitter a run for their monies. Any writing I find myself doing is out of duty or purely reactive – for the latter, such as in this here essay, it is borne out of an emotional need, something that shrilly would make me shrink back if I did anything otherwise.
Sometimes when I am two upset thoughts away from wholly breaking down from this culture of being overworked, I find myself ironically writing to stave it off. But then it is because I am writing, about not being able to write, that I find my respite.
In some ways, writing comes to me more naturally than breathing sometimes. I forget to breathe through a crisis, but hand me a pen and paper and I will write my way out of it. I will process away the pain, the agony, the anxiety that always is on the edges of my perception, threatening to close off everything like a northbound highway lane in great disrepair.
But what happens when writing for relief is barely accommodated, and then writing for pleasure is even more swiftly thrown out the window? This is the state of my life I am now terrified of. I stare at my “recent” files in Google Drive and see news story after news story, breaking day turn after breaking day turn, and I crave the desire to remember art. The way it felt to open up a document and just feel my soul run on and on and on like it’s doing now in this piece.
These days, I don’t have time to write anymore about anything but my job, or myself. The latter is for therapeutic purposes more than vanity. I don’t have anything I feel exceedingly proud of other than the fact that I know I break my back putting out the paper every day, and my coworkers and I all know it too. But after that, there’s not much else. I’ll go out for a weekend drink, and friends will ask me how my week went. I sputter because I don’t really know how to answer that anymore. “Horribly,” isn’t always the answer, “unsatisfying,” doesn’t fit the bill either, and “good,” is all but a lie.
Because it really falls between “draining” and “existentially confusing,” but that in of itself is the weight of living. For what meaning am I garnering from slaving every day in the hope it’s better tomorrow?
If I had it my way I wouldn’t need to worry about income. I could finally get going on that dream I have of being a nonfiction author, of sitting and thinking so hard about stringing two words together that I feel my brain drift off into ecstasy. But that’s a luxury for the few and the privileged — either financially endowed, or courageously endowed. I have neither at the moment.
Worlds of curiosity battle inside me as I stuff it all in drawers behind my closet in the morning, put on my business-casual best and strut out the door in heels I haven’t broken in, playing the role of ‘imposter’ once again to a world that doesn’t care about 23.75-year-olds.
I’m 50 days shy of being 24, and I know full well that my writing right now feels worthless unless picked up by a bigshot. I can read all the New Yorker, Atlantic, GQ, Esquire in the world and think I can do that too. And then not. I am not in a position right now to be discovered. I am in a position right now to live, soak up enough and hopefully have it be enough. Build up the critical thinking that will one day be arrows in my quiver.
But what you worship is never enough, so I also must learn right now to stop worshipping anything. Not external, such as success, or internal, such as talent. That can all run out.
And these days, I worship the weekends, where I can take a break and remember who I am. It doesn’t look too good for now, but it’s a work in progress. And someday, I hope, it will be worth writing about.