It has been nearly a year since I last posted to this blog, and I would like to think I’ve just been too busy. That isn’t a lie. Since changing jobs earlier this year (in itself, a major stressor… the job I held for more than six years is now but a line item on my resume), I’ve had only one full day off from work (the day I moved… and even “majorer” stressor), and since moving doesn’t exactly qualify as a vacation, I’ve now gone five months without a day of rest. Who has time to “blog” in all of this?
My last post (a post-election post) wasn’t a bad way to leave this site: I said what I needed to and probably something few people wanted to hear. That happens to me a lot. I walk into a room with a heaping bucket of common sense that I emphatically pour on the fires of whimsy and fantasy (enough with the “fake news” already! your Orwellian language makes my head spin… whatever happened to “lies, slander and libel”?) and the discussion at hand invariably is plagued by crickets. As in… everyone stops talking. Which has never been my goal. It’s okay to be right, but I am lonely enough without chasing others away.
Between work and the move and more work and the occasional outing (I have been making more of an effort to enjoy this city, because I can go days without leaving my apartment other than to buy groceries or do my laundry… I often forget that I’m living in the cultural capital of the universe), I haven’t had time for writing whimsically, as it were.
Now that I’ve found a better apartment, I realize that my self-diagnosis (i.e. too busy to write for free) is a superficial one. The truth is, I’ve lost my voice. By this, I mean my creative voice. I have no inspiration, no passion for writing. Now that I cannot blame my immediate surroundings for my malaise (trust me, when you live in an apartment run by a slumlord, you blame your surroundings for almost everything), I have to face my depression head on. And I feel as though I’m in a hall of mirrors: Everywhere I turn I just come back to myself.
I am not hard wired to self-love. I take a lot of my self-worth from serving others. Now, before you start sending me your therapist’s number, I probably cannot change who I am at this point. I can mitigate some of the more egregious issues with which I struggle, but I am never going to wake up in the morning and no longer value myself by the success of those whom I love. If my kids are doing well, I’m doing well. When my exes hurt, I still hurt. It’s not codependency (I swear!); introverted as I am, I still crave connection. I feel really good when I help someone out and feel like utter shit when I err and am less helpful (great example: when someone asks me for directions on the street and I inadvertently send them the wrong way… I want to chase them down and point out the error of my mapping, when chances are they just ask another person in a few blocks who has the sense to pull out the google to map that shit).
I recently read this article about a successful writer who has never managed to sign a book deal. She still writes, still pitches, but her literary fiction largely stays in a pile in her bottom desk drawer (or, to use 21st Century parlance, as a dozen-MB file buried in the back of a “catch-all” folder for failed prose). I, too, write literary fiction, which just isn’t the market anymore. If you cannot turn a novel into a film, you have to write at a level that will draw in awards from on high. Even book reviewers are relics these days, giving way to crowd-sourced panels discussing the merits of literature and non-fiction. New authors aren’t discovered, they’re branded.
Things change, that much can be counted on. And in the past 20 years, things have changed at an alarmingly rapid pace (I recently read a story about “uncontacted people” in Brazil being ruthlessly murdered and rather than being horrified by the violence I was shocked to know there are people on this planet – outside of North Korea – who don’t have cellphones and have never even heard of the internet). For the rest of us who aren’t facing genocide, the pace of technological change forces us to adapt or get out of the way of others.
For writers, especially, these are dark times. Our President thinks 140 characters is all you need to inform the populace of major policy decisions. Instagram is the only medium that seems to matter right now (pictures may be worth 1000 words, but the gurgle of followers and likes seems to dictate which photos truly “matter”). This makes even the more prolific writers struggle for bandwidth.
At the start of 2017, I once again sat down with a journal and laid out my good intentions. Some of these I managed to address (or, more accurately, am still addressing). I starting taking Russian classes again (only to have an issue with the instructor, whereby the class was canceled halfway through), which was on my “three-year plan.” Writing more was also on my list of goals.
But when inspiration is gone, when my voice is absent, when I speak and it clears the room… I please no one, not even myself. And the cacophony of voices screaming to be heard (the desire for fame or acknowledgement at any cost) overwhelms me like a tsunami (or Hurricane Harvey), so I just hunker down and “do the work.” Which for the better part of five months has not been about writing.
Unless it’s beer! I still am writing (for pay! yay!) for several publications, and I do enjoy my beverage writing. I am developing some new tours for NYC Urban Adventures around beer and brewing history. I’m not at a shortage for things to do.
And maybe I’ll find my voice again. Maybe it starts today, with this post. Maybe I’ll write a great screenplay (since that certainly would be easier to get noticed than a well-written novel) or even a mediocre one that will appeal to the masses. Maybe…