About seven years ago I was working on a cacophany of projects. I was a senior in highschool, which I hated for the most part.
And I was falling in love, though not with a person. I may not have been a skilled writer back then, but I loved language. I did not see writing as a chore. I loved it, and I woke up at 4am to do it, as I had been doing for a few years.
Today it is 9am and I have yet to put words on a page. I fear I’ve fallen out of love with language, or maybe I just got discouraged at some point. After years of school, rejection, and criticism have I gotten afraid to play? Perhaps. And if I really am afraid of playing, then what can I do to relearn the kind of joy I took in process six, seven, and more years ago?
I bring this up because my productivity is down. I am steadily losing sight of my NaNoWriMo and personal goals for the month. Pushing oneself only gets one so far. Joy must be both one’s fuel and product if one is to make art without fear.
Art without fear. Everything beautiful, nothing painful, to paraphrase Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse-Five.
I don’t feel like I’m afraid all the time, but I think I’m hiding from the truth: I am afraid of writing.
I’ve gotten used to some kinds of rejection, and perhaps I have internalized those rejections into fear of being rejected at every turn. So much fear may be in me that it drowns out my joy. When I read something good I get a bit of that joy back, but then the joy is fleeting.
I’ve been reading Vonnegut this morning. I can tell there was joy in him as he wrote. At least, I think I can tell. I would scarcely claim to have knowledge of another human’s mind, for I don’t know my own so well. In fact, I distrust people who claim to have a sure grasp of human nature.
In any case, I need my joy back. Maybe if I read day after day, book after book, as I did for years as a kid, I will be able to reclaim my joy in words.
Or perhaps I’ll be disappointed, and spend day after day looking for a cure when I really know there is no cure for the terror that comes with the end of ignorance. There is only the courage to cope with knowledge.