Deluge of Subtraction (I Have No Idea Why I Write)

When a day passes without a collection of words falling from thought to paper or screen, I get a little upset with myself. In part, I believe that I am defined by my ability to think creatively and originally, but the impulse to make things comes less and less often as I age. This, in turn, throws me into something of an identity crisis: how will I frame my perception of myself if my creativity wanes? What will be left within that makes me worthwhile?


I fear a future devoid of the urge to make things. Some times I fear it as a possibility, and other times I fear it as an inevitability. Some times I worry it has already happened, and that these vague attempts at short stories, prose or poetry are just me, flailing against the machinations of my subconscious and conscious mind(s). Currently, I have over half-a-dozen short stories in progress; a majority of which I'm almost certain will never actually be completed. All of these ideas are incredibly half-baked (though still somewhat promising, otherwise I wouldn't bother keeping them), and I have to pay such close attention to my most fleeting creative urges and notions - otherwise I'd likely never sit down to make anything ever again.


When at home, I spend a majority of my time in a highly-passive state. I relax, intoxicate and indulge in varying forms of media; from sitcoms to quiz shows to music to stand-up comedy. I like to release the tense, white-knuckled grip I have on my mental processes during the work day and simply forget about responsibilities or needs that are above the most immediate and dire. But this makes for a problem: when in this relaxed, inactive frame of mind, I very rarely have any urge to buckle down and concentrate on my stories, despite having all the time in the world to do so. I fear that this is essentially because I am still, at my core, a very lazy human being. While on the clock, I ALWAYS have an almost-feverish urge to get some writing done. But why then? Most likely because I'd rather be writing than reviewing appraisals or dealing with upset bank representatives on the phone. Am I a writer at all at this point, or am I just something of a braggart who uses his "writing" as an excuse to feel slightly more unique or distinguished?


This question is valid, and it requires some actual reflection. Why did I begin writing in the first place? I can remember why very distinctly: I was just picking up my first instrument (electric guitar) and a friend of mine - already an experienced musician in his own right - wanted to start a band. We were young and our ambitions reached much further than our dedication, but we did attempt to make something of the idea. So we began practicing singing as a pair and after a while, realized that we'd need to write lyrics if we intended to write songs. We would handle a verse each, work in tandem on the chorus and then hammer out whatever details we felt were still necessary. We were young (twelve-years-old in fact) and the songs were silly and dramatic, but it all felt very real and significant at the time. While we never actually figured out melodies for any of our songs, we began spending nearly all of our free time together writing. He would mostly stick to lyrics, while I eventually ventured into more straight-forward poetry; partially at the urging of our eighth grade English teacher who was very good about reinforcing our new-found enthusiasm for the craft. Though I may never know what the actual quality of my poetry was at the time, she made me truly believe that I had a previously-undiscovered knack for writing. My friend fell away from both writing and playing music over time, while I stuck with my poetry and took it further in later years, eventually becoming a true musician as well.


It's been some time since I looked back on those days and it fills me with a sort of bitter nostalgia. See, when I first began writing, I was an artist, through-and-through. Since my toddler days I had spent so many hours putting pencil to paper and drawing anything that came to mind. I was damn good for my age and only getting better, and of course, I wanted it to be my career when I became an adult. And that seemed to be my downfall: upon entering high school and encountering lots of different artists - more than I had ever known and many that were leagues above me in terms of skill - I became discouraged. I grew frustrated with my inability to transfer images from my mind to the paper, and drawing slowly became little more than an exercise in blinding anger the likes of which I had never experienced before. Soon I was shredding almost everything I attempted to create, and over the next four years, I stopped drawing as a hobby pretty much entirely. The idea of a career in art or animation became something I would scoff at, as if it hadn't totally consumed me for more than half of my young life.


That passion to create art has never returned. Occasionally I'll draw, or doodle with charcoals and chalks (my now-preferred mediums because they're so messy), but it's rare that anything significant gets started, and nothing gets completed, period. Having been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder this past year, I suppose I could use that as an excuse, but to do so has never felt justifiable in my opinion. I've proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am capable of producing things that are both thorough, complicated and finished; it's just that I rarely maintain interest in any one concept or idea long enough to wrap everything up. Currently, I have one short story which has breached a dozen pages. It's been through many rewrites and edits, and the story has evolved considerably in both scope and concept. In many ways I'm proud of what I've written thus far, but upon reviewing it in its current entirety, I felt that it was just... Silly. A silly idea for a story that nobody would have any interest in reading. And with that one, passing thought, I stopped writing, and have since began two, brand new stories. Knowing me, neither will be completed, as I seem almost incapable of finishing anything that cannot be belted out in one sitting.


I often wonder if part of the reason why I feel next to no desire to write while at home is because I smoke entirely too much marijuana. I have my reasons and am beyond feeling ashamed for my vice, but it has some totally undesirable consequences that I have yet to conquer. I am in great health and feel motivated to exercise daily and will often pair smoking with a work out or with chores, because the sensation no longer bogs me down in ways that it once did. But on the flip side, I generally feel no desire to apply myself to anything which requires deep thought or insight after getting high. It helps to understand that I smoke specifically to detach from the world at large, as I spend each and every day as a hyper-sensitive and highly-depressive young man. Each hour at work is spent impatiently waiting for the clock to strike five PM so that I may return home, isolate myself and smoke up. At this stage in my life, it is the only thing I've found to be reliable in defeating my mood swings, and thus, has become one of the only things I consistently look forward to doing. It's a sad way to be, but it's what works, and what keeps me from sitting in the garage with the car on.


But has this ongoing dependency hobbled me in a creative sense? I really can't say, because for a long time, smoking was the only thing that kept me writing. As has been the case in recent months, I often have a difficult time separating my constant misery from my creative pursuits, and the result is poetry or prose or whatever else tinged with self-loathing and misanthropy. Many of these pieces are not worth my time as a writer, and they are worth even less time to you, the potential reader. When I became a regular user of marijuana, I would often use it to alter my state of mind almost immediately before I began writing, and the results would often be bereft of that all-encompassing negativity that I can never seem to shake. It was a welcome change to the process. Presently, however, marijuana seems to have very little influence over what I do and do not write about. My hatred for the world and the people who occupy it paints almost every thought or interaction I have. Much of my time in therapy is spent lamenting the state of things, the lack of tact in the general populous, the inability of anyone to think uniquely or for themselves; I am basically a geriatric mind trapped in a young body. And when I write, I can scarcely manage to escape this outlook, and will fill line after line with metaphors for self-mutilation and suicide.


I hate this. I hate my internal insistence on emphasizing the negative; as if being ceaselessly aware of it will somehow make it go away, or make me numb to it. It never does, and I will never stop being affected by it. So why must I constantly remind myself of my shortcomings through my writing? Why am I so incapable of finishing a good story - one that other people may actually want to read - but I can summon this desperate self-loathing in an instant?


I don't know.

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