I’m Afraid to Write

This blog in general doesn’t contain a lot of personal stuff about me. This is one post that is intended to be very personal. I’m warning you now. This is a good time to go back to whatever else you might enjoy as you kill time at work or in line or wherever you like your distractions.

Anyway, like I said, this blog tends not to have much that is very personal. There is some, here and there, mostly when I’m trying to explain why I’m not updating the site, or when I feel like I need to scream into the void. Some things are very, intensely personal, but I put a façade over them and use the voice of the persona I use when I write here. This emotional distance is a reflex, something I’ve always done, a way to keep myself functioning in a world that is often, to me, a swirling maelstrom of chaos that I’m unable to comprehend or understand without a remove and a wall of sardonic cynicism and sarcasm. And passionate feelings about cupcakes and smoke detectors.

So while I’m much better at being emotionally accessible to the people in my personal life nowadays, I’ve kept the sunnier/angrier persona here, for a few reasons. The first is my assumption that if you’re reading this, you don’t want to hear about my personal shit. The blog is mostly light fare intended for a few minutes of vapid entertainment. The second is a fear of rejection and abandonment, which is the thing that I fear the most. Yes, even more than my Halloween decorations.

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This is Victoria, in the doorway to my bedroom, as posed by my brother-in-law. She was not the decoration that scared me the most.

 

The third reason is the regret I tend to feel when I make myself emotionally accessible. Not in my true personal life, thank god – as anyone who saw my groom’s speech at my wedding last year can attest, I can happily cry and talk for twenty interminable minutes about my feelings when surrounded by the people I love and trust. It’s being open to the people that don’t know me as well that inspires the feeling of regret. I will likely regret this post.

But I’m going to do it anyway. As a favor to you, I won’t be talking about something important, in the grand scheme of things. In the end, this blog post is about writing. It’s why I’m putting it here, because this is the place where the part of me that wants to be an Author lives, and it’s tied heavily into my attempts at writing again. It might take a little bit, but I swear it’ll come back to writing. Eventually.

There are a bunch of heavy, serious things that have been going on in my life for the past few years, from my first marriage collapse to divorce to depression to meeting my future wife to getting engaged to her cancer diagnosis to moving to Maryland to wedding to chemotherapy to cancer-free to job change to planning for IVF. I’ve mentioned those things briefly from time to time, but not much of it has made it here. Much of it is too raw for me put down on paper just yet, and my wife – a funnier and better writer than me – has provided a lot of beautiful and powerful insight into the things we’ve been going through together on her own site. It you want to know more about those things, go there. She expresses it better than I can.

Over the last few years of these serious heavy things I’ve lost most of my friends, despite what the Facebook numbers might suggest. I’ve managed to keep some, thankfully, despite my self-destructive urge to push people away when I’m down, and over the last couple of years I’ve been able to get some back and found new appreciation for them and the joy they bring to my life. I hope to reconnect with more of them as time goes on.

The funny thing is, I’ve never been happier in my life. I’m almost a different person now, as those who’ve known me for a while can attest. I am at peace with the world. I’m optimistic – well, for me anyway – and hopeful. I take such joy in the things that I wake up to every day. I’ve also been lucky enough to meet new people who have become family to me, who have shown me love and kindness in measures I didn’t know could exist. I feel lucky every day, especially because of the incredible, supportive, brilliant, kind, and loving wife I’ve somehow managed to convince to be with me.

So what does this have to do with writing?

Fine, I’ll get to the point.

It’s been tough during these last few years to write. The emotional roller coaster wasn’t a wellspring of creative output. Over the last year, with encouragement and support and inspiration from my spouse – seriously, she’s amazing, and I can forgive the trope of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl now because I’ve had someone amazing come into my life and shake it up and make me see the world in a whole new way and sometimes fairy tales are real – I’ve written more things I actually like and am happy with than I’ve ever managed. The Brave Girl is something I adore, because it is the most emotionally true thing I’ve ever written and it made my wife happy-cry. I’ve created the cosmology for a fantasy world and written the creation story of a universe I’m eager to explore (and is becoming the world that the Northreach stories take place). The Serpent in the Citadel is by far the least popular thing I’ve ever put on my blog – it’s Mass Effect detective noir fan fiction, after all – but it makes me happy writing it and reading it. Of all the things I’ve ever written, it’s the one that I’m writing for myself. Of course, it’s easy to say that when I’m the only one reading it.

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So why am I afraid to write?

My thoughts on this started yesterday after mentioning I was going to try NaNoWriMo again, and ideas for the story I might write. I’ve had fears before about writing, mostly worrying that I didn’t have any stories I wanted to tell. Then, I didn’t have anything I wanted to say. Now, I’m dealing with the opposite. There are stories I want to tell, more stories I’ve ever had in my life, all wanting to get out. It’s a fountain of ideas that suddenly feels limitless. So that fear is gone, but it’s been replaced.

I’m afraid of my ability to write them.

I’m afraid I’m not good enough to do them justice. No, I’m afraid that I’m shit, and the stories will be shit, and they don’t deserve that. I’m afraid of being terrible, unreadable, and no one will have the heart to tell me to just stop. I’m afraid of the big white space of a new Word document. I’m afraid of hitting the Publish button on a new blog post – fuck, a Facebook status – and putting myself out there. It’s that fear of rejection and abandonment I’ve been wrestling with my whole life, waiting like a grinning goddamn boogeyman in a blanket-clutching kid’s cracked-open closet, and just like that kid I can’t take my eyes off the dark space behind the door. Typing these words right here are scary as fuck and telling myself I don’t have to actually publish this post at all is the only way I can put them down because acknowledging the fear makes it real.

There it is.

I guess if this post has a purpose it’s to let this feeling out. I’m tired of carrying it around on the inside. Maybe it’s a way to face the fear, to make it real, because things that are real can be dealt with, and I know now, after the last few years, that I can deal with anything. I once said something that was a joke at the time, but unintentionally turned out to be true. It was a leadership conference, my senior year of high school, as part of the JROTC program. There was maybe fifty of us there, learning lessons about… something. All I remember learning about was that Hitler had uncontrollable flatulence.

I was told that, he wasn’t there and I didn’t experience it first-hand or anything.

Anyway, one of the conference leaders asked us all what kind of animal we’d be and why. There was your usual mix of things, wolves, bears, eagles – lots of bald eagles, it was very patriotic – and those kinds of things. I was trying to come up with something that sounded good, since I was towards the end of the line, and couldn’t, so I decided to make a joke instead and deflect. On my turn, I stood up and said I’d be a cockroach. Everyone laughed, and the leader asked me why. I said, “because they’ll survive anything, even a nuclear war.” I got some more laughs and I happily sat down, glad to get that over with. Now, though, I realize that it’s true. I feel like I can face anything and survive. I’m a cockroach. I’m a goddamn cockroach, and I can survive anything.

Maybe even hitting Publish on this post.

About Alan Edwards

An indie writer who does accounting full-time on the side.

Posted on October 26, 2016, in Self Reflection and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. This, all of this! Brava, and see you at NaNoWriMo, where I will also be celebrating my complete ineptitude in writing. 🙂

  2. It’s funny because you’re a double threat, sir. You have a capacity that I haven’t seen to not only envision it and get it onto paper, but I’ve seen you take the vision on the paper and make it come to life in person. Just a thought. 🙂

    Also I still think during the dark depression days you would have been the Trent Reznor of writing. Although now that Stephen King has everything together and he’s in his twilight years and happy he’s putting out some dark fairy tale esque things that are a tinge brighter than the past.

    I wish I could join everyone on NaNoWriMo, but I honestly feel like if I force myself to write I end up having to go back over the material 5 times to get it to actually be anything worth reading. I def respect everyone that makes the attempt at it though.

    • Thanks, man. That’s really nice to say. I definitely encourage you to give NaNoWriMo a try, because while you definitely will go back 5 times or more to make it semi-coherent, it’s always easier to edit and polish something that is written than something that isn’t. Even if the only thing you keep is one pretty nice paragraph, it’s worth it in my mind.

  3. You are the best human, the best cockroach, and a MUCH better writer than I am (so you can go jump in a hole with that silliness). Your writing is amazing. I’ve been lucky enough to watch as you formulate stories and flesh out the beautiful details, and I know you’re going to write them with twice as much thought and care. And you know what? It doesn’t matter what I think. Or anyone thinks. Your Serpent in the Citadel story is a fantastic adventure story, even if it doesn’t speak to everyone. Personally, I would listen to Corrigan Blake narrate frying an egg because his badassery and grit cannot be overstated, but the most important thing is that it speaks to you. Because that always comes through. It came through on this post and in Serpent and in Brave Girl, and I’m sure it’ll come through in whatever story you choose to write in November. Besides, you’re the most well-read person I know and I work at the fucking Peabody Library. If anyone knows good writing (particularly good fantasy writing), it’s you. So if you like it, everyone should probably pay attention. Just saying 😘 p.s. I FUCKING LOVE YOU

  4. FWIW, I started following your blog because of your stories. The yarn you spin is pretty damn awesome (and I mean that in the original sense of the word) from where I’m sitting.

  5. I stumbled across your blog years ago over a fitness post. What got me at first was your great sense of humor. I can’t believe that you would think you are a shit writer. That is not true. You have so much going for you. You are different, funny, kind, and talented. Just keep writing, even if it is for Vikings fans like me who enjoy what you have to say. I miss your rants about the Redskins, and politics, and weather, and dogs, and well…everything. Please keep pushing the publish button. We need someone like you in times like these.

    • Thank you for your very kind and generous words. It means a lot to me. In fact, I’ll be sure to dedicate my next rant to you! As a long-suffering reader here, you’ve earned it.

  6. I came to your blog for some comfort after finding out that America’s next president will be a repulsive, bigoted, narcissistic, sexist, racist, xenophobic, tax-evading, pro-torture, potential rapist/war criminal psychopath; and I’m legitimately terrified of what may come. And it’s not so much that as the fact that someone like that could even get that far by a “majority vote.” But reading this really did help.

    I’ve never read anything of yours that I felt was a facade. Maybe exaggerated for entertainment… or maybe it’s done in a way to express things strongly that would get you weird glances in public, but you actually mean it and just use ‘entertainment’ as an excuse… or is that just me? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    I hope you don’t stop writing… and I’m not saying this to make you feel like you have some burden and/or moral obligation to an audience seeking joy in moments of despair. I want you to write for you (I think it’s apparent you already do).

    Being open about your vulnerabilities, and brave enough to “push publish” weirdly gives me hope, even more than the pathetic attempts of some “inspirational” v-logs that speak directly to the outcome of the election and how everything will be okay in spite of it – all the more reason to escape into fantastical worlds, am I right? Hehe.

    My faith in humanity is no longer at its lowest point… so, thank you! ^_^

    • You made me cry at work.

      You know, after Tuesday night, I had no desire to write. My own fear for the future of this country had me speechless and writing some dumb thing about nothing seemed to me like the greatest waste of time and resources imaginable. You changed that. And now, my faith in humanity is restored. Thank you.

      So basically, every crappy thing I write I’m absolutely going to blame you for.

  1. Pingback: Everything Isn’t Going To Be OK | Me and My Shovel

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