I feel like I want to do so many things, and yet I do so few. My lack of accomplishment has led to a worsening of my depression, but being in therapy (at last) is helping provide some clarity.
Two weeks ago, I left with a question about who I am, what I’m doing. Didn’t get far with that; life got busy and I got sidetracked. But I did start to develop an understanding that I need to simplify things, focus on one thing and build from there.
But the focus part was still, well, unfocused. Focus on … what? I could say “the podcast” but that’s an incomplete answer. And it had no emotional connection. It felt like I had simply traded in my multi-faceted to-do list for a single item. That’s not a roadmap to a successful life, just a smaller to-do list.
Yesterday, the right thoughts came.
I have avoided a simple truth about my life for almost the entirety of my adulthood: I am a writer. I can do all kinds of things, but it’s writing that I know is the foundation of my being. It’s what I can do best. I love writing (once I get past the various blocks that impede my way). People respond to my writing.
But call myself a writer? What a hypocrite, what a phony! How can I call myself a writer when I write so infrequently, when I make little effort to get published, when I do none of the things that would lead to me being a “real” writer.
I have no choice, however. Either I admit to being a writer, or I admit to being empty and useless. Not really any other choices than that. So what if I don’t write often, don’t get published, waste time, etc? This is about identity, about who I am and not what I do. Hell, I did tech support for five years but I would never consider myself a techie.
I’m a writer.
So today, I’ve written. I’ve done research, too, and I bought a new electric toothbrush. And made dinner. And watched the 4th quarter of the Warriors-Rockets. I’ve done a bunch of stuff, but here I am now, 8:45 in the evening, not really happy with the full outcome of the day, and I’m writing.
That’s what I figured out yesterday: Write. Don’t plan, don’t prepare. Write. As Harlan Ellison said, “Writers write”. He didn’t say they produce masterpieces or they structure a narrative first or anything like that. They write. Anne Lamott suggests focusing on something small, the way you would look at a tiny part of the world through a one-inch picture frame.
So today, I acted like a writer. One piece led to a lot more questions, which led to more research, and the piece itself is unlikely to see the light of day. But the writing process helped me take a few steps towards a goal I’ve been aiming at for some time.
And this post, written because of my feelings of uneasiness and the usual end-of-day angst, is a demonstration to myself that I can stop at any time and just start writing. The point isn’t to craft a great essay; the point is to write.
Writers write. So that’s what I did today. I wrote.