writing and being

My writer’s block-busting exercise becomes a block in itself when I want to write standard “hey this is what’s in my head” entries. So here goes with one of those, long overdue.

For the past few weeks, no small amount of my spare brain-cycles have been spent focusing on the question of what I do next with my life, career-wise. After receiving two graduate school application rejections – what a fantastic economic period for this process – I have questioned whether this is the right thing for me to focus on while my writing lies stagnant. Not that I would ever ditch my day job for the promise of a future as a writer; I am far too attached to my current standard of living, and all of my major financial decisions impact not only me, but my partner, and not only now, but our future.

Since I stumbled into library science thirteen years ago, it became a natural outgrowth of my strongest traits, but I never intended for this to be Who I Am. There is some amount of sadness in my heart when I hear myself referred to as a librarian and not a writer. The truth of it is that I spent the past thirteen years focusing on my day job and not my writing.

And now when I want to change all that, to focus on my writing in the bits of spare time I can cobble together, I don’t know how to do it.

I have taken workshops; I share stories and critiques with an amazing writing group; I read books on the craft of writing and the art of getting published.

After a long talk with FunkyPlaid the other night, I realized something overwhelming and horrible: I have lost hope. It isn’t about rejection, either; I have lost the power to visualize myself succeeding as a writer. Because of this, I do not see myself as a writer anymore, so I do not behave in writerly ways. Stories go unfinished; poems go unedited. I wake up with ideas I never bother to write down.

Sometimes I spend hours staring at blank notebooks in stores, pretending that if I found the right notebook, I would see myself as a writer again. I fully realize how ridiculous the prospect is, and I do it anyway.

It is crazy to me that I am entertaining this bout of self-doubt while the rest of my life is soaring above my every expectation. It is crazy to me that I feel this despair while I am surrounded by creativity of every kind, musicians and artists and parents and writers and glass-workers and conspiracy theorists and designers and all of them, every one of them, seeing themselves for what they are.

All I see of myself is what I have not yet done.

I know how this reads to the cynical eye: a plea for sympathy, a fish for compliments. It is a confession, and only I can absolve myself.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.