“I ought to get back to blogging about writing,” I complained to my accountability buddy this morning, “But… I’m not writing. And I don’t want to write just another apology piece about that, because I don’t want not writing to be a stick I’m beating myself up with.”
And, huh, I thought. Actually, that’s worth talking about.
So here I am, on my author website, writing about choosing not to write.
People tell me they love my stories. People (OK, friends and family) tell me they want to see more of stories from me.
And I mean… me too, in theory.
I am proud of being a published author. I am extra proud of having been able to add some small contribution to the collective mass of queer-positive fiction out there. I know I have a lot of room for improvement as a fiction writer, but I think I can also objectively say that I have some skill at it.
All of that makes me want to write. But…
But the actual act of writing is honestly not something I enjoy. Sitting at a computer or scribbling in a notebook, I struggle. I struggle to stay focused; I struggle to remember what it was about my latest story idea what made me want to write it in the first place; I struggle to want to be there. Whether I spend half an hour or half a day, I come away from a writing session feeling frustrated, exhausted, dispirited…
Having stories written makes me feel wonderful. Trying to write them mostly makes me feel like shit.
That wasn’t always true. I poured out fiction when I was in high school – it was such a part of my identity that I devoted my careers homework to planning out my authorial career and then went and majored in Creative Writing at university.
But I was a very different person in high school. A shy, sensitive, outsider, struggling with undiagnosed anxiety and ADHD and generally feeling like a complete alien among my peers, trying to navigate a world that seemed governed by unwritten rules that everyone but me understood.
If teenage me threw myself into writing, it was for the same reason I threw myself into reading, or online roleplaying: to escape to fantastic worlds where the only invisible rules I had to make sense of were the rules of storytelling. I was good at those rules.
Fast forward 20 years and I’m a much happier person. I still don’t get all of society’s invisible rules (and half the ones I do get I refuse to play by), but I have a far greater understanding of myself, I have the confidence of age, and best of all I have a truly life-giving group of friends who are all just as odd as me.
But as it turns out, now that I don’t just see the world as something to escape, the activities that make me happiest are all classic extrovert things: getting out and active, meeting and talking to people, getting involved. Give me parties! Give me dancing! Let me volunteer for every committee under the sun!
Books and writing were the escapes I needed as a teenager. But they’re incredibly solitary activities, and now that I’m comfortable not being solitary… it turns out I really don’t like enjoy them.
So where does that leave me and writing?
I don’t know.
For once, I don’t have a snappy answer to give here.
I am proud of my writing, and I would like to produce more of it without it being something I have to force (I’m particularly interested in pursuing more collaborative storytelling, a style I’ve loved ever since those online roleplaying groups in high school). But figuring out how that might work is going to be a big journey, and right now I am in the middle of enough big journeys.
Right now I am still trying to figure out how best to manage my ADHD brain (diagnosed less than a year ago, don’t forget). Meanwhile (off-blog) I’m living through a pandemic, facing down the question of where I want my working life to go from here, and living in a different country for what was originally going to be six months but is now into month seven with no clear end in sight.
That’s enough Big Life Stuff. More than enough.
So for now, I am choosing not to write.
I still intend to keep up with blogging – I have plenty to ramble on about ADHD (and all the more reason to write about it!), mental health, asexuality, gender… Hell, I might even put up some more fiction reviews/analyses. Just because writing my own fiction is hard doesn’t mean I’ve lost any of my interest in the rules of storytelling.
But fiction writing will not be part of my life for a while, and I have made my peace with that.