I’m Too Scared to Answer the Questions Writing Asks of Me

Instead of recording a “hand dance” tonight, I decided that I would work on a blog post. For about two hours, I was planning out a post (sometimes, I actually do make a plan for these things). The more I worked on the plan, the more disjointed my ideas became. Then, my mind wandered onto a topic that I’ve been avoiding for quite some time.

Hand dance.

A video posted by Bernard Walter (@bernardwalter) on

The post I was planning out was centred on an idea I had: some people think the world is too big and some people think the world is too small. I can’t figure out my definitions, despite my best efforts at a Venn diagram. Instead, I’m going to write randomly about another idea I’ve had tangential thoughts about.

I was listening to a podcast, Writers and Company, this morning on my way to work. I was trying to make a tricky left turn when I heard the interviewer ask the interviewee about writing about things that hard to write about. In this case, it was a writer writing about the experience of being a black man in the USA. I waited until the light turned red to make my left.

Last week, I was having a chat with a lady-date and we got to talking about my writing projects. All of my writing projects are on hold because I keep coming up against this wall. All of a sudden, I drop every writing project because it stops being enjoyable and fun(ny) to me. They have each stopped exactly when I have to start asking myself questions I don’t want to answer, for myself or for anyone else.

Every counsellor I’ve seen has told me that I need to write. Even a good friend of mine told me that I need to write a novel. I’m sceptical of the counsellors’ advice, if only because I told them that I like to write during the first session. My friend’s advice, I trust, if only because he knows who I am, and he is a psychiatrist and fishin’ buddy.

I used to define myself as a writer. I used to think of myself as someone who, primarily, writes. I used to believe that everything I did was in aid of my writing.

I don’t believe this anymore. Now, I think of myself as, primarily, an educator. It’s so much more less romantic.

It’s an exchange, really. In order to feel like a successful educator, I have to put my creative energies into educating. Worse than driving away from school thinking I could’ve done something differently is leaving with no ideas for tomorrow. Being quickly tapped out, I’m strapped when it comes to writing.

The other issue with writing is that it is self-directed. I have to come up with the ideas, plan them out, write them down, edit them, and find the time to do all of this. After all of this is done, I have to own it.

Somewhere along the way, I started to worry. Maybe it’s that my frontal cortex has finally finished developing, or maybe it’s that thinking about what I think about my past is harder than thinking about where I think my life is going. In my personal life, I’m hardly forward-thinking.

Write hard and clear about what hurts.

-Ernest Hemingway

My struggle with writing has largely to do with me not having written down those memories and ideas that I need to write down before I can move forward as a writer.

I don’t want to hear myself speaking to myself while I work out an idea that I’ve been avoiding. I don’t want to struggle with the words that will take me weeks to structure correctly. I don’t want to face the sentences that are going to make me cry.

I want to find comfort in the strength it takes to keep my undoings from unravelling.

You know, I’ve been keeping a journal for at least the last 20 years. I’ve never read through a single page of anything I’ve ever written for myself. I’m so afraid to face who I am and who I was; I can’t separate the two, unlike the true existentialist. My journal is my trash bin.

What I want to write is my compost; I want all of my organic scraps to become the fodder for flowers and fruit. I ain’t ready or willing to dig through dirt crawling with worms, though.

I’d really rather think about whether the world is too big or too small and come to the conclusion that it’s enough.

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