Scrambling For Words

I don’t know what to write. I’m here, in this great open space, and I feel claustrophobic because the words won’t come to my whistle.

I’m surrounded by greatness. By bloggers with concise words and a clear goal and helpful things to say. And here I am, groping after words, quivering at the curb while I wait for the great gust of wind to fill me and push me on down the street. I don’t know what to write. I feel fake, without history or emotional weight, like the ‘quilt’ on my bed that I am sitting on. It’s not really a quilt; it’s a top sheet printed to look somewhat like a quilt. It has a layer of batting and a bottom sheet and it’s been sewed together with a machine’s precise curves and it’s very… autumnal.

It was cheap. I wanted a quilt. I wanted a thing that reminded me of something made by hand, or by many hands. I forget that all of the pieces of this duvet were turned out under the hands of someone, that someone, a lot like me, designed the ‘quilt’ that was printed onto white fabric with orange and red and yellow and brown inks. Maybe someone in a Phillipino or a Thailand factory guided the sewing machine around and around over the top of it. This quilt has emotional weight, then, but I don’t know what it is.

I’m whining. I’m whining because I feel empty. When I whine, my sentences always include ‘I,’ as if I had some control over any of this. Me first, melodramatic me, knuckles to the forehead like a Greek tragedy, sighing about the torments of creative writing. The book says this is supposed to make me feel compassion, that writing from my pain will make me feel tender towards the concrete and the cracked grass blowing between the slabs of the sidewalk.

Instead I feel angry. I’m frustrated with the here and now, when I have three stories and two books waiting and all I can seem to churn out is more self-pitying crap. It’s not even good self-pitying crap. It’s not even kind of good. It’s not the wild-eyed wounded animal noises I flatter myself I can make when I’m struggling.

It’s just unadulterated crap. A ragbag of phrases and ideas that stuck, that raise their edges from the murk when I stir it all tonight in a stretch for 500 words on anything. This isn’t compassion, this is desperation and I’m marinating in it.

I don’t have any organized self-help words tonight, or cheerleading, or hope, or personal challenges, or any of the shit I’d like to post. Like some kind of pro-am novelist with Things to say and a burning, lurid prose in which to say them. I don’t have any of that. I just have all this pent-up frustration at not enough time and not enough good ideas and an internal editor with a sphincter clenched so tight it’s amazing I can write a sentence, let alone 500 words.

But hey, here I am at 512.

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