An Interesting Dilemma About Writing

My life is full of interesting dilemmas. They’re only interesting because I make them so. I mean, in any real world, with real problems, and real solutions, my dilemmas needn’t exist. But, since I have some a lot of time on my hands, I spend a lot of time conjuring up stories to make my concerns meaningful somehow.

I’ve got a few dilemmas that I’d like to write about, but I’m waffling on whether or not to publicize at least a couple of them. I do, however, have one in mind that I’ll briefly expound on now.

Recently, I was working on a letter to a couple of friends of mine. I was writing the letter out by hand, mostly because I just wanted to. From the first word — as soon as pen hit paper — I was stuck. It took me a very long time to write out the letter.

During my last placement, I was pretty frustrated with the penmanship of most of the students. I brought this in as an indoor-recess/free time activity. It remained unseen.
During my last placement, I was pretty frustrated with the penmanship of most of the students. I brought this in as an indoor-recess/free time activity. It remained unseen.

The first problem I ran into is one that I’ve been struggling with for some time: it was physically difficult to write. This is very troubling for me, because it shouldn’t be hard to write. Isn’t writing part of being literate?

My hand started cramping up almost as soon as I held onto the pen. I found myself thinking about how to shape the lines to form the letters that would then form words. I struggled with where to place the introductory salutation, the date, and the first letter. Should I indent my paragraphs or use a space between them?

As I was writing, it only became more difficult to write. I spent so much energy thinking about how to write, that the content was slipping away from me. I took breaks from writing, only because the effort required became too much for a guy with too much time on his hands. I found myself searching for simple words, likely because my efforts were honed in on actually transmuting them into recognizable characters.

The second problem I ran into was the loss of a clear direction for the letter. This problem is linked to the first, but it remains distinct. I couldn’t bring my ideas together. When I was thinking about the letter, which I did for a while before sitting down to write it, my thoughts were clear and logical. When I sat down to actually write them out, I was stumped. The letter lost the potency it carried while floating around in my brain.

Even writing out this post is taking me way more time and effort than I’d like for it to. I’m making ridiculous errors — a few will likely remain when it’s published — and it’s getting frustrating to write.

I’d like to think that I’m just a bit out of practice, and continuing to read and write will help improve the situation that I currently find myself in. I’m a little worried, though. I think that I’ve somehow managed to make my brain unable to focus by constantly distracting myself. I haven’t been able to sit still for more than about 15 minutes in the last two weeks. I’ve been feeling really bored and I’m constantly looking for something new to do.

I was just looking at my to-do list from last week, while preparing my to-do list for this week. Most of the items have just been moved over. I got too little done in 120 hours. I think it was Sartre, in Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions, who wrote about how emotions cloud all experiences, absorbing those experiences into the emotion. In my case, I’m finding everything boring because I’m emotively bored. I forget what he wrote about getting out of this type of funk, and I’m probably too bored to go find a copy of the book and read it again.

Coming back to writing, I have big plans to do a lot of writing over the next few months, so I need to get out of this funk. With that, I need to be physically able to write with a pen, because I prefer to do most of my writing by hand before typing it up. I also think that handwriting is charming. Most importantly, I need to be able to formulate coherent and related sentences, with complete focus not on their construction but on their consequence.

***

A friend of mine recently tweeted that she’d like to see a return to letter writing:

I think she’s right.

A long while back, now, I had a thought about returning to letter writing. The idea was simple: I’ll write you a handwritten letter if you ask me to. Nobody asked me to. But, maybe now is a good time to put the idea back on the table. So, if you’d like me to write you a handwritten letter, just let me know. I just need a name or pseudonym, topic, and address for you. Cool?

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