This week has been a rough one for writing. I’ve started about ten essays only to find when I’ve reached the 1500 word count mark that what I am looking at is garbage. I went for a run today to clear my head and try and figure out what the issue is and I think I’ve got a working theory. I am trying too hard to make the essays be something they are not. The all have a forced feeling of gravity, of sadness. And while there is a bit of that in the stories I’m trying to tell, there is a seriousness to all of them and that’s not where my strengths lie.
After the run I sat down to write a very specific essay for a specific publication that felt lighter to me. I tried to focus on one incident in particular and I tried to make it feel like an old blog post from when we were in the hospital. Off the cuff, mildly self-deprecating, with a twinge of something deeper. I failed.
Two paragraphs into it and it was slogging along, focusing on the bad parts instead of the funny parts. Languishing in a sea of overwrought adjectives. Trying to be something it’s not. This is frustrating and I am not sure how to get past it except I keep opening a new file once I realize I’ve contaminated the existing one. In the process I’ve written a lot, but nothing is even close to what I’m trying for.
I don’t know when I will know I’ve got something that works. Part of this is because I’m not sharing my writing with anyone, but also because I’m so close to everything it all seems unimportant. Frivolous. Not funny. Not sad. Just bad. Everyone I read who writes about writing says continuing to write a lot and read a lot is what’s important and I get that. I know no one can tell me when it will get better, when it will feel better, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing for a timeline.