The Writer’s Albatross


My attention has been everywhere but on this piece I want to publish. I’ve been working on it for twenty days.

I even posted a little hint on Facebook about how it would come out in a few days, and about the topic, in order to publicly pressure myself into finishing it. Instead of writing it, I wrote a comment for a Facebook argument that was 100 words longer than my draft — it was even on a related topic. That comment only took an hour to write, I’d been working on the article for days.

I’ve tried various angles towards the end of completing this article. I’ve tried taking breaks. I’ve tried ignoring social obligations. I’ve tried reading other people’s writing. I’ve tried setting deadlines. I’ve tried working on other writing projects, but that has only made it worse — my lack of focus on this one article has spilled over into all of my projects. Now I have several unfinished projects to worry about, and no willpower.

This failure to focus has rejuvenated some essential insecurities: the shame of so many unfinished novels of my past, the shameful abandonment of past blogs and Twitter, the fear that I am a bad writer, the fear that no one would want to read what I have to say to begin with — that I am uninteresting and indulgent.

No matter what I do, I now have this hanging over my head. Every conversation I have with someone, every time I go out or read an article, I cannot stop thinking about this piece, and how I’m not currently completing it. The option of abandoning the piece for peace of mind is non-existent, as far as I’m concerned. Having work to show for my eight years of studying Creative Writing, and for my lifetime aspiration of being a writer, is the most important thing. It gets tiring seeing friends and acquaintances release pieces and projects and not having any of my own to share or show. That bitterness is likely another obstacle to my writing success —

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

This insecurity accumulates massively over time. I have friends with projects that bore me, who still have followers. What is the difference between me and those people? Simply, they believe someone wants their product, so they put it out there. The sparseness of my production is embarrassing. No one will care about polished content if it doesn’t exist. Further, people participate in less polished content all the time. There exists a niche for everything — but only if it exists. Maybe my problem is a lack of affirmation, a lack of reflection on that niche. I have been told that people are reading my work, often by surprising people. But I do not know what else those people would like to read, I do not connect with an audience, though I would like to.

This is creative constipation. All life is on hold for this blockage.  All senses are impaired by this burden. I cannot taste my food, much less cook it, without thinking that I am doing so at the expense of this article. My dishes go unwashed. It is a wonder I make it to school with this hanging over me.

This is like falling down stairs. You fail one step and then you tumble down more, painfully, and you are disoriented, grasping. But these stairs have not yet ended, and I do not know when I will get up again. The basic failure of completing this task in a timely manner cascades into memories of every creative failure, into acute awareness of all of my shortcomings.

This spills into my personal life as well — I find myself questioning if anyone would even care to listen to what I have to say in a conversation. What do people gain from reading my stories, poetry, articles? What do they gain from even talking to me? My ego is expression.  Stories are my self-esteem and the framework upon which I base the world.  This cascade of doubt is excruciating.

My grandfather just died. Before that, an old friend who had forsaken me died. I dissolved a best friendship over betrayal. I am in cold stasis with my oldest friend, unsure of what direction to move in — to accept loss, to continue the bitter status quo, to hope and wait for better. Someone I wanted to love for the rest of my life has gotten too far away from me, or I have been too inert towards her and lost her forever, perhaps. I had just written a poem about her, when I realized this. I have just learned what would make my mother disown me. I am stranded and dependent, though trying to make a life for myself, and all of these blows have shaken me, and there are likely to be more, because that is how life works.

This blog post is the most focused I’ve been on anything for a while, the most thoroughly invested. I am spending valuable brain power and clarity to produce this post, but then it has seemed a long time since I had any at all. I am hoping that through deciding to create and release this post, I will start the pattern of creating and releasing more things.

Wish me luck.


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