I’m writing this at 10 o’clock in my sister’s room. My laptop sits nestled in the lap of my criss-crossed legs, and my phone softly murmurs music.
I want to say I doubt myself. A lot. Maybe, more than I should.
It’s what kept me from opening my Mac and allowing my fingers to stab at the keyboard. Like this is some instrument of percussion, and I’m forcing all the wrong notes out. Even as I write this, I imagine what people will think of how I write. If I am too wordy. Too thoughtless. Aimless.
Sometimes, I stare at a word document and let it sit, untouched, for hours. Purposely ignoring it.
This doesn’t help the buzzing in my head, the constant turn of ideas that beg to be placed on paper, the half-written stories trapped in Times New Roman, 12.
I like to re-read the things I write. Sometimes to laugh. Mostly, to let the restless writer in me be sated for a few hours. Because I’ve written so much, I forget what I have hidden in files tucked under homework assignments and worthless notes.
I say hello to characters I haven’t heard from in months, tweaking their words before moving on to the next draft with half-satisfaction.
I treat my stories like the people in my life. I fixate on one for a few moments, and move on, flipping back and forth. I save numbers in my phone, and I leave them there to collect dust.
Then, on an unsuspecting early morning, I bombard friends for a few minutes. Collect their thoughts. And, inevitably leave them on read.
Somewhere, my incomplete drafts laugh with empathy.
I want to tell you I’ll do better, that I’m going to stay here and update this blog, fill you up with my thoughts, but I’m not sure. It’s like I’m dipping my toes in cold water, hesitant not because I’m scared of the temperature, but I’m scared of the murkiness– of what lingers beneath what I can’t see.
Writing is like that. It pulls you to the water and dares you to sink your feet into the soft mud just beneath the surface. It asks you to ignore the stray pebbles that dig into your heels. Soon, it wonders if you can move further into the deep, if you can grit your teeth and let the water rise to your thighs.
Sometimes, I imagine I am standing neck-high, and if I let the tide pull me deeper, I’ll forget how to swim. Even though, I know how to swim. I can swim backward, and across lakes, and against rushing currents if I focus hard enough.
Writing does this to me– it gives me a thrill, but it forces me to second guess myself. I backtrack sentences and restart stories, because nothing sounds perfect. Nothing is as good as what it can be.
I can do better, I think. I will do better, I say every time I click on ‘new file.’
I don’t know what to say after this, which feels like irony, because I’m supposed to know what to say. That’s the entire point of this rambling. These tiny 12 point letters are supposed to be looking you in the eyes, digging their fingers into your chest and asking you to ‘listen up.’
But, instead, I ask you to read closely and wait for me. The water is deep, but I can nearly see the riverbed.