Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Am I Still a Writer?

NaNoWriMo is coming up.  For almost 20 years, now that I think about it, I've either attempted to do NaNo or thought about why I shouldn't do it.   I've finished some novels because of it, and I've tormented myself because of it.

I'm wondering if I should bother this year.  I have not written anything in months.  Part of this is my very small life -- I don't leave the house often, I don't speak to people often, I certainly don't interact with anyone other than my husband on a regular basis.  I've withdrawn from many things because the effort of fighting off panic is exhausting.  I can't battle it intellectually, and my medications only work so far (I can push myself into a social situation, I can even have a good time, but I will be exhausted afterwards, sometimes for more than a day).  And, for better or worse, I always got my stories from bits and pieces I picked up from being around people, especially people who weren't in my current carefully curated circles. 

So I feel...voiceless.  No, more than that, I feel wordless.  I have nothing to talk about really except my lacks and losses and insufficiencies, and I'm bored with that.  I'm typing this more out of an insistence that I do something than from a deep need.  I could crawl right back into my chair and speak to no one but my critters.

I'm thinking more and more about the pointlessness of my life, too.  Not suicidally, no, but how fear has so overtaken me than I do not more more than can not move, because something might make me uncomfortable.  I'm bored, I'm stunted, I'm barely living, but I'm not constantly marshalling my forces against my emotions to keep them in control.  I'm not doing that part...which is not really healthy, to tell the truth, but seems like my only choice.

So, am I a writer?  Was I a writer?  I'm not a musician any more.  I'm not a reader.  If I'm not a writer, then I'm out of identities, because that is the one I've held onto for most of my life.  I'm a non-entity.  I'm a cat (and dog) lady.  I'm a hermit.

The sun shines outside and I have the window open for the fresh air.  Maybe I can re-assume my writer identity with a little effort, like writing this blog and doing my morning pages, and maybe even doing NaNo.  It's not something I talk over with the ones I love most -- this conversation is the kind you have with people who aren't particularly concerned over your emotional well being moment-to-moment.  It's the thing you discuss with your writing group (don't have one anymore), with someone you meet on more intellectual ground (again, I don't put myself out where those people might be).

My isolation has been a long process.  I'm not sure how to walk it back anymore.  Few notice, fewer speak, and only one or two are willing to help me pry loose of my shell for a while, because that's work and I should be able to do it for myself.  But I can't or I won't or I don't.  Maybe I could use NaNo for that.

I have a week or more to think about it.


quiet path said...

Oh boy!!!! I know exactly what you are talking about. I fail to talk to other people or to understand what struggles or triumphs that made them who they are as an individual. Developing interesting well rounded characters are born from the richness of other people lives. I have discovered that even strangers are generally ready to share openly about the good and bad of their lives. Basically everyone has a story.

Murphy Jacobs said...

I think that being able to listen and then retell those stories is the essence of being a writer.