Writing in the Ring

What Happens When I Write Myself Cold

I sit here, expecting for creativity to take over my mind. I want for a wave of inspiration to hit me to the ground. I want to go places I’ve never been, experience new and pleasurable sensations. But I can’t. Brains go blank, at times. And mine is no exception. This sensation of mental paralysis is strange. Pundits often say that writing can be analogized to a sport. Like basketball, the more one practices, the more natural it’ll feel. Sometimes, though, truisms are but that. Truisms. They’re known to all and, thus, not that useful. Like a key without a door, a pen without a piece of paper, a human being without a home.

It’s amazing, as time goes by, to notice the inner-fight that occurs. I’m in a boxing ring with myself. I’m attempting with all my might to land the last punch. I want the knockout. I can feel the crowd around me, cheering me on. All they want is for the lights to go out. That masterful haymaker that’ll make me fly off my feet. They don’t want to spend a single second taking their breath between rounds. They’ve spent the money, driven to the stadium, and invested money into the fight. Some have even put money on my failure.

Although everyone knows it’s impossible, they, including myself, still want to see (or be) the new Muhammad Ali. They convince themselves that a revolution is about to erupt. The picture of Ali staring at Sonny Liston, that’s what people want to experience. Anything less will be a failure. They’ll go back home and pout. So I fight. I jab — left, right, right — before taking a step back to take a breath. I didn’t notice that my heart was about to blast out of my chest. Every time it sends blood through my body, I’m close to passing out. My vision is poor. At this point, I can barely see six feet ahead. But my opponent is too strong. He’s the one who’s keeping me motivated, not myself. If it were just me, I’d unlace my shoes, take a shower, and sleep for a week. But, no. The crowd, the energy, the chants, the fear, the pain, and my opponent will keep me grounded. “Just keep on punching,” I tell myself, “Just keep the rhythm going.”

I try to wake up from this daze because I need to write. It’s Monday — one o’clock in the afternoon — and I still haven’t put pen to paper. I’ve been warming my hands on my keyboard. How pathetic. The words I put together don’t fit together — they don’t feel “right.” Like Ali, I want for every click to become masterpieces. The sentences, the metaphors, and the flow — I want to string them together like a violent combination. Left jab, right hook, and an uppercut to the ribs. And the reader goes flying. “3! 2! 1!” Ding, ding, ding! Yet, the whole thing feels like a bad workout after a night out. A walking hangover in a gym. A ghost amongst a crowd. Nothingness amidst everything.

I like thinking that I can punch myself to place a step forward. Like glass ceilings, things end up breaking when enough pressured is applied. It takes time to find the sweet spot — the place of weakest resistance. But, with time, it comes. This is what I hope, at least. I might be wrong and I likely am. Yet, irrationality seems to be the only thing that holds people together when the stakes are high.

It’d be easy to convince myself that there’s nothing different between writing on a Monday and writing on a Tuesday. But, to me, that difference means everything. It points to something wrong. A flaw in an algorithm that I’ve been working on for years. It’s not something I wish for myself nor wish for anyone, anywhere. The rush comes with the intention to keep on punching. Because, tomorrow, the energy will have passed, the moment will have disappeared. And all that remains is the lingering feeling of imperfection. If only I could’ve had that last punch. This is the feeling from which I run. And so I begin to write.

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