As usual, I have thoughts bouncing around my head like a bunch of rabid weasels that refuse to just settle down and behave. So what the hey, I’ll write a post about them instead!
One of the things that happens sometimes, within the communities that I hang out in, is getting asked, “So what do you write?” and my default, instinctual answer is something along the lines of, “I don’t”, or, “Nothing really,” anything along those lines.
I have a complicated relationship with words.
Obviously by the fact that I have this blog at all, the aforementioned statements aren’t particularly factual or true; instead they are a reflection of my notions of self-worth, they are a mirror of how I tend to view my writing despite time and time again of people telling me otherwise about it. Even when I admit to the fact that I write things, be it this blog or my assortment of poetry or my seven trashfire nanowrimo drafts (yep, seven; and I still moderate a nanowrimo chatroom on IRC but in recent years haven’t produced anything remotely resembling a story let alone a novel) most of which I would prefer to never see again, I have a very difficult time seeing myself as a writer.
Part of this in turn stems from the difficulties that I have with composition. A lot of what I write is exceedingly short, and I’m not talking about the whole myth that “shorter is better”, either. The posts I write are short because I run out of the ability to string the words together and make them say what I want to. They don’t look the same on the screen as they sound in my head and I get frustrated and more often than not I close the window and do not post anything at all. I leave windows open for hours on end (like I have this one) and don’t come up with what I want to say.
There’s a solution to this problem for me, but it’s a solution that comes with its own round of problems. That solution is pen and paper. I’ve always felt better and felt like I have more of a compositional flow when I’m writing with pen and paper. However, I have a whole host of problems with doing that as well.
I hold my pen too tightly, and writing more than a sentence at a time often physically hurts. Additionally, one of the most abiding and severe manifestations of my obsessive compulsive disorder happens when I am writing on paper. I have a very difficult time coping with the natural differences in letter forms, and every letter has to be perfect and look like every other letter on the page. I cannot switch pens in the middle of the page. If I misspell a word or make a mistake or my pen slips I have to start over from the beginning. If my pen runs out? I have to start over from the beginning. Sometimes mistakes are so upsetting that instead of writing I end up focused on tearing up what I made a mistake on, or shredding it, or burning it. I start writing in notebooks and then three days later put it aside and do not continue, which is made worse by the narrative that I’m wasting paper— I don’t want to be wasting paper, and I really do care about trees.
Shopping lists are a particularly fun part of this. I end up writing shopping lists two to three times just to get them to look neat and so that the foods are organised by type and aisle and store, and gods above forbid anyone else writes on my shopping list. Then I redo it again.
So of course, the solution to that is technology. Write on a computer, they said; it’ll be fun, they said; it’ll solve all your problems, they said. And maybe for someone else it will solve all of their problems, but it hasn’t yet solved mine.
A lot of things that I write I still work out on paper first and then type up after I have the idea of where it is going. But most of the time I’m not willing to deal with the entire process of writing or the frustrations of writing, and so that’s the reason that most of the time, I’m not willing to call myself a writer.