Friday, July 16, 2010

The Elephant and the Tortoise

The program for the Melbourne Writers Festival was released today. In the week leading up I tried to work up some enthusiasm, and got out my diary and pen when flicking through the schedule today. I jotted down a couple of items, and then...scribbled them out. That wasn't enough, so I whited them out too.

I kept asking myself why I was looking, why I was even thinking about the writers festival, when I am not writing, and therefore not a writer.

It hurts.

At the top of my thoughts is an obese flaccid white elephant that I'm doing my best to ignore and failing miserably. At some point during my slow fitting of the identity of writer I ruled that I would not be a "writer" by intention only. Writing is an act, and if nothing is produced then you're not a writer, you're a wannabe. A poser. Worse than someone with no luck and no skill, you're not even bothering to try. And in all honesty, there are better identities to fake than that of the shut-in-spending-all-day-in-your-head-making-shit-up home body, which is also easily confused as 'nutjob'.

Here I am. I'm not writing. I haven't opened my manuscript since returning from Tibet, nor have I given it a great deal of thought.

I'm scared.

It hurts, it still hurts, it hurts enough that I don't want to type, I don't want to type anything at all. Every now and then I try. I get brave and ballsy and start a blog post. They look long. Longish. Long enough you need to scroll even without photos. And they hurt. I wince and flinch and stop too often to flex and stretch and take the edge off.

I can't write like this. I can't immerse myself in anything if all I'm thinking about is how much my wrists hurt and how much more they'll hurt by the end.

I'm afraid to try and work on my manuscript, because I'm afraid I won't be able to at all.


Or do not.

There must be something else. This white elephant just sits there, not saying a thing yet all the while asking, "If you're not a writer, then what are you?"

I have to be something else, I have to do something else, I have to. Writing shapes my whole life. Everything I do, decide, consume, no matter how random or trivial or unrelated to anything of significance, it's all collected because I might need it later. It will out in a story, inevitably. That is the purpose I have given my life.

It is not enough to merely live.

Whenever I tackle the elephant the possibilities I feed it aren't big enough to fill the void that writing will leave. Sometimes I wonder if it is defeatist thinking. There are many who have had their dreams thwarted only to discover alternate ones that are just as rewarding, but.

Always the but.

The only thing I can think of that would consume me, shape my every waking thought and colour my whole existence is to have children.

Which is a whole other elephant I don't want to acknowledge.

I just spent $500 on ergonomic equipment. I'm using it now, and have lasted longer than I would have before, but that may simply be rum taking the edge off. This sweet little tortoise of hope peeked out of its shell when the packages arrived, because maybe this will make enough of a difference that I won't have to tackle the elephant at all.

This tortoise has peeked out before. This tortoise has been crushed before.

I don't want to do this any more.