Your preoccupation with writing doesn’t mean you have found your purpose. It doesn’t mean you don’t type the words “is this what I want to do with my life?” over and over, as you stare at a blank page. It only means there are a handful of things your life is short for and defining those things leaves you no choice other than staring at the blank page.
My cousin sent me that. How did he know? And from when did he write that well—it annoyed me. I was tempted to stick it up on Google—sure can’t be his own, but took the high road instead.
“Good stuff. Needed this, thanks.”
His response ruined my day.
“You wrote this. 2017?”
I couldn’t comprehend having written that, not for how distant in the past it was, but because of how impossible in the present it felt. I don’t think I can feel like that now. Or again. I know way too much about writing. Enough for my preoccupation with not having written to shroud me in uncharted anguish.
How did it come down to this?
I started writing because whenever work got boring, I’d take a nap. One colleague waited for me to wake up and gave me what I think is the best career advice I have gotten: always be typing something real fast.
So I wrote. I got promoted the next year. Before another promotion, I quit. Travelled. It’s what I loved about writing when I started. The freedom of endless discovery, the discovery of endless love. One of the handfuls o’ things life was short for.
I knew nothing about writing as a craft, a process, as the anaphora for solipsism. All that I got from reading books on becoming a better writer. They made me the assole I am now. These books were intent on convincing me I was a writer.
And here was the only problem with that: I didn’t want to be a writer. Don’t.
But I’d ostensibly become one so fast that, now, a text from my cousin was a reminder that my best was behind me.
Dafaq does that even mean?
It means I wanted to stop—I wanted to stop because I would never be better, than myself—and, this, lest you forget, despite being a rubbish writer, which I admit not out of heightened self-awareness but lowered self-esteem. I even stopped travelling because it was getting in the way of writing. At least narcissus was handsome.
We all become victims of creative onanism. This idea that your best is behind you is at the center of it. But if you get your head out of your ass, you realize that’s pretty much the only way to create, not getting your head out, but for your best to be behind you, again and again and again—again again again. To be liberated of the past so you can pay attention to the present.
Paying attention is turning loneliness into solitude. The text was a reminder of someone sharing the solitude with me, schizophrenia no matter.
It’s why I hope your best is constantly behind you. It’s how you begin to see what’s in front of you. It’s how you learn to let go. It’s how you make art.
And it’s how I remind myself why I started writing in the first place: not to become a writer, but to stay awake.
All I know about writing, I know from acceptance and everything I know about acceptance, I know from failing in love.