If I really thought about it, I’m sure I could come up with a few words for the feelings I have for blank pages. But the only thing I can really think of is thick warm socks and Prairies.
That might just be because I’m reading Truth & Bright Water by Thomas King for my Contemporary Canadian Lit class, but it might also be because blank pages are kind of strange. They are full of promise, but also of expectation.
As a writer, I feel both in a very unsettling mixture at the back of my neck every time I click “New” on Microsoft Word (for mac!) Yes, I can write anything. Can I write anything? No.
Generally, I have a purpose. It is either editing a piece for Hippocampus, typing out an assignment, or starting the beginning drafts of research for an article. It is bucket-full of foreboding events: sickness, laziness, inability to concentrate, distraction, stress, cloudy thoughts, tangled theses, and all sorts of other fun things that can possibly muck up a perfectly good document. A misplaced period. An apostrophe where a possessive doesn’t make sense. A fail of a fact-check.
It is also the idea that I could have opened 15 documents where I only created 2 that makes me kind of nauseous about my writerly future. Anything that I (or anyone else) has ever read about writing and writers states, very specifically, that “you need to write every day.” And yet do I? I just complain about not being able to do it every day, every day. I don’t think that’s the same thing as really flexing your creative mentality. It’s definitely not the same thing as the sparks of a story written in a few lines. It’s not the same as a rhythmic pulse to the words on the page, that run away with you and turn into poetry.
So sometimes I wonder if I was cut out for this. I wonder more than I actually write.
And the advice from people who don’t write, who don’t understand that fire, is to write – to forget about your career, and write while you can. But I can’t. I am too anal. I am an awkward blend (as much as anyone) of flighty and realistic. I used to be a romantic, a dreamer, and with my aging, I’ve become very focused on tangible things. Money. Rent. Food. I have all but near given up my imagination.
When I have the opportunity to write something creative for school, I almost cry of joy. But I don’t. What I am learning is how to be concise. That is not writing as much as it is. I keep convincing myself that this is an important lesson that I can take to my writing, but have I ever? Do I even deserve the name?
Lately, all I see in a blank page is expectation. My mind holds promise, I know, but it’s been getting more difficult to translate it to words. I need more practice. But I can’t let go of everything I’m trying to accomplish as “a real human being” who wants to “succeed in the writing/editing/publishing” industry. It’s hard to let that go because I’m trying to work hard now so I can buy myself time later to write in my free time without filling up all of my free time with extra work.
Is that what young people do these days or am I just absolutely mental?
I feel like that’s what everyone around me is doing, to a degree, as well, and so I feel good in that relation to them, but not necessarily about our parallel paths.
I think that there is a work-life balance that I haven’t worked out yet because all I do is work for free. When I can turn my passion into work, then maybe I can settle that balance. When I don’t have to tutor or serve beer or put away art supplies (which in themselves are wonderful jobs and I am lucky to do them as opposed to all the other jobs I could be doing), then maybe my balance will settle, I’ll stop striving to be the youngest, the one with most on her plate, the one ahead of the pack. That’s a mentality that has seemingly settled into my subconscious through my dad (I remember him telling me that being first is important), but I don’t, if I sit down and think it through, agree with. Others are okay being themselves, but that, at the same time, means that they are happy with settling for something, for their boring jobs or careers. I want to be the one that is more than just what I’ve been given – I want to be what I have worked for and achieved. But if I don’t have time for people, how is that more? Or maybe I’m being smart in trying to find a career where I will be happy. I’ve always believed in achieving and picking something that is right for you. That is what I want for myself, as well – but what does that mean in the meantime?
This post should have been titled “Oy Vey” and I could have just posted a GIF of a person hitting their head against a wall and called it a night. But I had to get all philosophical on yo’ asses.
I’m not sure how well I did with that, but I know that October is the time to start evaluating your year. Start looking at what went right and wrong, and where there is an exit and where there is a door.