Sunday, May 02, 2021

on writing and not writing

 Toward the end of last week, I was feeling the not all too unfamiliar feeling (doubt? restlessness? ennui?) about my work (more specifically writing more than visual work), It comes and goes, that feeling that feels like spending your whole life shouting into a canyon that comes back with only your own echo, but I was feeling it by Friday and questioning everything.. I don't think it necessarily has to do with po-biz, and more maybe with a certain writerly loneliness in the world. I don't need fancy pubs and awards and attention, but I do like to feel that my words are hitting some sort of mark out there in the universe. (Maybe not the mark I intended, but something at least.)

That canyon is so big, and so filled with other writers also shouting.  And also, there is this huge rushing whir that may be the wind, but may also be terrible very-real world things like raging pandemic attention spans and  a world that barely reads at all. I sometimes go back to a blog entry I wrote in 2010 about feeling completely and utterly creatively happy and fulfilled, which is especially funny considering my non-creative personal life was a shit show and my work life tolerable but undynamic. I also was barely writing, and it occurred to me, this may have been why I felt so happy.  I was anxious about it--the NOT writing, sure.  But while others were shouting, I was hiding in the bushes. Being ignored was okay because, really, I had nothing much to offer.  

In those years post MFA, I was devoting much more time to the etsy shop and visual things, and these felt like something people actually wanted, you know.  Not just things I was throwing out into the silence. These things took up time/energies later better spent on my own projects and the chapbook arm of the operations and eventually I scaled the retail end back in favor of these endeavors. These are a harder sell than paper goods, vintage, and jewelry--all things in high demand in those days when etsy was still small enough to forge a following. The output/reward system was more direct and involved less effort. So it could be that--the satisfaction in making things for which there is a demand in the world outside of poetry, which is so small but also large but sometimes highly capricious.  

I joked to a friend via text as I was unpacking these feelings that maybe writing itself makes me restless and unhappy given the 2010 factor.  Maybe I am a happier Kristy NOT writing. Not screaming into a void.  But that doesn't seem right either, given the not-writing anxiety. So I am stuck, not being completely happy when I am writing, but also not happy when I'm NOT writing. I do not quite no which is worse, but only that both are really uncomfortable. So I soldier on, mostly because not writing pen to paper feels like giving up, and there is so much left to write. There's a quote by some dead male author (Rilke maybe?) about writing and choice that I've always thought was over dramatic. Really, sometimes I would rather do anything other than write. But eventually, the desire comes back around, and it's worse not to do it than to just do the thing. I would not fact I'd probably be a lot more financially stable and angst-prone. But something would be missing. 

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