Well, Now What?
I keep trying to write, and I can’t.
I guess the fault here is mine, because I keep defining “writing” as something involving characters, and I can’t seem to think much of my performance pieces and my angry articles. But I feel tremendously for any and all human beings, within my own limits, so it feels like dishonesty to only ever write about myself.
It also feels pretty lonely.
Characters are strange to me, because they are people in my head, and it feels cruel to build them specifically for a story, have them go though some arguably awful crap, and then put them away once my final line has been delivered. It makes me wonder if there’s any point to me at all, or if I’m just supposed to live this life so that others can learn something from it.
I may contain multitudes, but they are frowned upon. “Girly” is expected but judged, “tomboyish” is seen as, somehow, smarter, but also unladylike, which I thought you thought was bad in the first place? Distance is denied because girls are supposed to be empathetic and nurturing, fuck you, but empathy is also bad because it turns me into a crying mess, and everyone is trying to tell me what to feel and when and how.
So I have issues pulling these multitudes apart and using them to write characters. I’m a very angry writer and I will swear once every five words if I feel like it, so I don’t even see how I could write someone that is more soft-spoken than I, let alone make them feel emotions that I don’t allow myself to feel. (Except on behalf of others. I will always feel the weird shit you don't want to feel so that it's at least being felt. I still don't know why this happens.)
If you’ve ever had to rewind a song because you weren’t paying enough attention to it, you know the feeling of frustration you get when you hear that one sequence that pulls at your nerve endings like bass strings and you realise you just missed out on all of the wonderful subtleties embroidered in it that you otherwise know by heart when you hear it but only like you would remember the face of a stranger when you don’t, and should you not play it again, you’ll be obsessed with trying to remember everything for the rest of the day.
That’s what happens with me and people, and feelings, and concepts, and story ideas. I understand something for a split-second, like what made Gatsby “great” (quotation marks half ironic, half because it is a quote) and why Nick saying he had an extraordinary gift for hope hit me so hard, or how I could use different descriptions of the same object to show the way it loses meaning and depth and becomes more of a measuring cup for some abstract quality in those describing it, maybe even to reflect on the question of whether or not that happens to us when we’re being judged.
And as I was writing that paragraph, I had to face the disappointment of finding myself forced to employ my memory rather than my feelings, because the very second I thought I had a grasp of it all and could use it to write, to express this to you, it went away.
TL;DR: If I have a stimulus, inspiration comes. If I turn it off, it’s like unplugging the TV (in which, for clarification, I am the TV). If I keep it on, I can’t focus.
What the actual fuck.