Monday, March 13, 2017

Hello, Again. Again.

Sometimes I will go months without writing here on my blog (or anywhere at all) and when I try to do so I make several failed attempts that feel self conscious and awkward, like shyly trying to re-approach someone after a long time apart. I'm not sure of what to say, or how to act. I read back over old posts and think that it was something really nice, and then this compounds the problem- I have written all the nice things I will ever write. I am out of it. My interesting is gone. What is there left to say?

In that vein, I just spent about an hour sifting through half written essays, notes, stories, lists, travel journals, and half baked posts, having never gone back and done so, really, in the entire time I have been keeping such little digital scraps, which is about as long as I have been living overseas. The sheer amount of almost realized communication is staggering. I am even more shocked at how much of it I had absolutely forgotten, right up until that moment my gaze was sliding across the words reminding me that yes, this happened, yes, you did that, yes, remember you meant to write about ___________?

The one that really made me wince, the part that stopped me in my nostalgic wandering tracks and dropped me straight onto this waiting white page, was a post about this time two years ago, when I was finishing my thesis. I was bemoaning how all I had been doing for months was writing, but all I wanted to do was write, and could not.

It’s Friday night, and I was supposed to sit down, once more, with all of that data and start writing a story out of it: identifying themes, sketching out categories, separating and copy pasting and research marking and citing and connecting. I was supposed to prepare it to be grafted seamlessly onto what I’ve already done, so it is accepted and works well together and fills in another blank in this big project that I’ve come to see as so many seemingly endless blank squares that I am slowly filling in, tiny black letter by single keystroke by citation by article, a meditative inch by inch belly crawl through this last long stretch of requirements before I get my degree in hand.

Instead, I sat down and wrote this. This that means nothing other than a representation of what is in my head, when what should be in my head is research and facts and Chap 4 rough drafts and Chapter 2 reworking and formatting tables and figuring out how to make Excel do what I need it to do.

This feeling is familiar, still. I still have not found a way to fix it.

For the past two months, all I have been doing is writing, non-stop, in every single spare second I could wring from my weeks and take from weekend after weekend. But it has only been writing all over my students' writing- comments, feedback, paragraphs of advice and restructuring and help. For weeks on end, I spent an average of 20 hours a week writing, writing, and writing more, all over all of their writing. The last thing I wanted to do after analyzing others' writing for hours was sit down and pour out and pore over my own. Why look at a screen for another single second? And in case you think to suggest, so helpfully, dear reader, I could just embrace handwriting- no, no, because that, too, I have been doing for hours, adding my own scrawling notes to their handwritten exams.

Today on the bus it occurred to me that I have noticed I get more done the more I have to do, and this is generally true. I can be fantastically, outrageously, super humanly productive, packing my days full from morning to night with a variety of responsibilities, activities, and various jobs for weeks, months, and sometimes, in the case of full time work and full time university studies, years.

And yet, when I reflect on that productivity, it never applies to my creative endeavors. It does, thankfully, apply to personal hobbies like working out, being social, volunteering, and being politically active- but writing? Do I guard it with the same fierce vengeance I reserve for getting all my grading and comments done on time, or ensuring I make all my meetings, or registering people to vote, or cleaning my house every Sunday, or keeping up my training and silks?

No. Every time, no. I don't know why, but it is always the first thing to go.

It makes me disappointed in myself that I will diligently work for an extra 20 hours a week at my job, because of their external and arbitrary deadlines, but I will not afford writing the same respect from myself, to myself, to impose diligent, consistent, hours of work here. I will berate myself for not answering an e-mail within a few hours, but I will type up a heartfelt memory of a trip or a person or a moment and want to expand that into a piece of writing that preserves moments of my one and only human life, and then I will let that waste in a Word document in Google drive for two years and not even remember what I wanted to do with it until I happen across it and am startled with how far away that strength of a recollection feels now.

I just turned over another year living overseas- 5 now, to be exact- and I am not interested in racking up another year of untold stories and unrealized plots or unexamined experiences. For the foreseeable future, this space will become a strange accordion time warp of present ramblings and random pin points in my recent past, hopping from year to year and month to month within this half decade of time I have spent wandering the earth with everything I own in my hands and on my back. I am not sure where all of this writing will be going, or what I am doing with it, but I want to go somewhere, and do something. Even if all I am doing is showing reverence for my own life by taking the time and space to reflect on it, craft it into a story, and pin it down on a page so that I can go back and learn from it and enjoy it again, that's enough. It doesn't have to be a book. It doesn't have to be worth anything to anyone but me. But it has to be worth enough to me to give it the time I do think it deserves, because when I read back on past posts or journals, every single time, without fail, I think to myself how glad I am that I wrote that down.