I just want to write, but writing right now — on this internet I both love and hate — also means reading. Reading to know what the hell I’m talking about, to be relevant, to be part of the conversation.
But I spend all week reading, scouring streams, clicking here and there, looking for specific things for work — and not necessarily for myself. When was the last time I read something purely for myself? When I dove into Pocket to read one of many pieces I’ve saved? The moment I finally find time for myself — a quiet Saturday morning, a husband still asleep, a rare weekend of no real plans — I think about what it is I want to say, but I want nothing to do with my computer. And so I don’t read, and I don’t write.
I just want to write, I say, so I tell myself to free write. To pick up that “unplug yourself” journal that my husband so graciously gave me as a small birthday gift, because he knew I was struggling with writing, with balancing work and free time, with pulling away from this damned screen. I love the sensation of holding the pen he bought me, of the way it hits the paper. But that has everything to do with the pen itself — it’s a nice pen — and nothing to do with the words I write. The very act — the flow from word to word, the re-appearance of my cursive letters, the expression of me in black ink — is meditative. Freeing. A tiny thing to do with my left hand. Is that what my handwriting looks like? But free handwriting feels strange. At work, we write a lot about getting inspired, finding ideas to write, and staying motivated. Just write for ten minutes. Just let it flow. Don’t stop. Let it all pour out. But as I scribble, how many times do I underline a word because I intend to hyperlink it? How many asterisks do I add to denote that something else goes there, that I need to google something, that this is incomplete? Really, how free is this process? The free write becomes five minutes of writing, and five minutes of internal editorial notes for when I transcribe the text into my blog’s dashboard. Because none of this matters if no one sees it.
I just want to write, but as you can see, I’m confused. I conflate writing with publishing; I’ve grown to believe that writing for five hours — only to leave it sitting as a draft at the end of the day and never coming back to it, ever — is a waste of time. I envy how others are fine with sharing every moment, every bit of fucking minutiae about their day, and wonder if I’m blogging all wrong. I didn’t always have this block: I used to write simply to see what I revealed, vomiting twenty pages just to get one gem of a paragraph. And I miss those days: when I worked part-time, when I devoted three full days a week just for writing, for thinking about writing, and for being able to sit in front of a blank page for hours, waiting for that spark, without feeling guilty. Writing — that good, automatic type of writing that I haven’t experienced in years — is like waiting for a bowel movement.
I just want to write, but I blame my position as a writer for the fact that I don’t write. I enjoy many aspects of my job, and feel extremely lucky to work where I do, alongside brilliant and talented people. I’m able to work with words, to write about writing and blogging and the internet, to edit other people’s work to make it better, and to think about ideas around reading, curation, storytelling, and publishing that I’d normally think about anyway. I don’t think there’s anywhere else I could or should be right now, and I still remember the plunge I took, over two years ago, when I applied for my current job. It’s the best professional decision I’ve ever made. But you have to be on all the time. Driven, current, motivated. And to be honest, sometimes I get tired. I spend so much time here: on this screen, in this dashboard, on this platform that I love, that I often have no mental energy to stay — as a writer like everyone else, as me — when my day is over.
I just want to write, but I continue to view each blog post as definitive, as some kind of statement. Who fucking cares, Cheri. Just shut up and write. I used to think I was a perfectionist, but I don’t think so anymore — I realize there are far more over-achieving people out there — and so I’m pretty sure I’m just lazy. It’s not that I try too hard to write something awesome. It’s that I don’t try hard enough.
I just want to write: about the difficulties I’ve faced so far in my tiny house project and the moments I’ve wanted to walk away, about not knowing what it is I’m really good at, about how the evolution of the DJ and the dance floor represents everything about what I hate about our culture today, about how one thing I can’t stand is overhearing how “transformative” 2014’s Burning Man was, about how I think I’m way too young to be jaded, about how socially awkward I can sometimes be, about drugs and how I miss taking them, about not wanting children but wondering what I’ll truly miss out on, about how I miss running but have finally found a new outlet in boxing, about how my husband and I — once travel writers — want to get unstuck and back out in the world, about how I find most travel writing trite, about how I hate the phrase “personal brand,” about how I feel I’ve no real ties to the Philippines and lack a sense of identity, and so much more. I have ideas, you see. And I’ve no clue where to start.
I just want to write. Ultimately, I suppose this counts.