If 2020 has taught us anything, even as it laid bare the kaleidoscopic fractals of our innermost selves, it is the truth of those selves. We have been challenged and shaken up. Pushed out of our comfort zones and into the scary unknown. For many of us, this has been a year of simultaneous stillness and change, and we have had to reckon with our own strengths and weaknesses. Whether we wanted to or not.
This year, I stopped writing for the first time in almost ten years. In all the prior years, I wrote almost daily, pushing myself day after day to churn out stories, to write more and bigger and better. And though often I wrote things that disappointed me, and which went into the scrap pile, I wrote. Constantly and feverishly. This year, I stopped.
I did not stop writing because I wanted to, or because I chose to. I stopped writing because midyear, my creative mind simply couldn’t hold up to the continuous assault of anxiety and fear and stress that came from the world around me. I sat down to write each day and found myself blank. I tried everything I could think of—going back to old stories to revise, writing pleasurable fluff, writing for friends and deadlines—but nothing brought back the spark that writing used to bring. I fought and struggled with my inability to write, and in the end I simply wound to a halt and stopped.
I stopped writing because I needed to. I could not write and create with passion when the world around me felt so terrifying. The supports that the modern world had provided, which enabled me to create while keeping a job and managing my life, were falling away. Life itself suddenly seemed very hard, and I had to focus on that.
So I did.
And while I was stopped, I thought about writing. It is a hard passion to have, writing. I questioned myself, and whether I really wanted to continue writing. Whether my stories and ideas were worth sharing. I asked myself, “Why? Who do you think you are writing for? Who would want to read your stories?”
In the stillness, the place between stories, I allowed myself to ask, and to seek the answer. Eventually, I found one.
I started writing again this week. Just a little poem. It is a small thing, a constellation of words so close to nothingness that I hesitate to call it writing. But it is, and I am proud of it.
This is a year that has forced me to reconsider my priorities. I suspect it has affected many of us this way. We can say one thing for 2020—it really has ripped the band-aid off our wounds and vulnerabilities, and forced us to heal them or cut them free.
This year, I stopped writing because I was so drained that I needed nothing but silence and stillness. I needed to heal. I started writing again because I found that the silence within me had a story to tell. I found the answers to my questions in that stillness.
Who would want to read your stories?
I do, and that is enough.
Who do you think you are writing for?
Myself, and I am enough.
Because there is no one else who can tell the stories I tell, who can craft moments of my own particular brand of beauty and magic. I write strange stories, and challenging ones, the kind that I see in dreams and have to chase down across the written page, day after day and word after word.
My writing may not always be perfect or glorious, but I hope that one day it will be. I write because I dream. My writing is my home, the kind of home that cannot be swept away by the tides of life. And it is just for me.