Sorry I—

Writing about writing gets old really fast. And yet, that’s all I’ve done the last few months (years?). I write about writing because my brain can’t seem to churn out anything else. So here I am, meta-writing as a last-ditch effort to regain my attention span. And still, I’m actually writing this because I’m procrastinating a long email, and I don’t want to fall prey yet again to the life-devouring, time-sucking monster of social media.

When I ditched Twitter and Threads came along, I foolishly thought I had finally found a safe space for distraction, one I could use sparingly. However, that’s like expecting a new flavor of Takis to be healthier and less addictive. It’s just a new variety of the same garbage I can’t get enough of.

I hate, hate, hate what social media has done to my mind. I used to be a good writer. Even if I had actually been a bad writer, I used to write. I used to have real hobbies where I had agency, rather than letting time fly out of my life, idly scrolling down, taking in whatever the algorithm wants to throw at me, no questions asked. Last weekend, while sipping coffee, Cavorite pulled out his journal, a tiny notebook filled with quick scribbles in pencil. There, he painted pictures with his words, and for a few seconds I felt as if I were joining him at a café in Antigua, Guatemala. How beautiful, a life recorded. I wished I had something like that.

But wait—I do! It’s right here. All I need to do is focus. When I was a kid, I used to dream that I had the ability to fly, but was only able to actually do so when I believed I could. That’s how writing feels now. Judging by the number of paragraphs preceding this sentence, maybe I managed to lift my feet off the ground, if only a few inches, and only for a little while.


Grounding Space

Maybe this blog has always been my grounding space. Maybe I was far less anxious when I was a regular writer of solipsistic observations over here. What I failed to see for so long—I didn’t know myself that well—was that this was never meant to impress anyone. I was never meant to make it as an author. I fancied myself a great writer when I was a kid, and when I eventually came to the realization that I wasn’t, I mistakenly believed there was no use keeping at it.

There’s also that part of the story where someone weaponizes my own writings against me and I become paranoid about my privacy. Fortunately, nowadays my online social life is in a post-Roman situation where everyone’s retreated to their remote villas and I have nothing to worry about anymore. I step out of my mental cottage on a crisp morning to gaze at the vast valley of silence before me, and I feel contented.

As I type this, I’m realizing my period of not writing is not unlike the time I spent away from drawing because I became convinced that it was somehow required to receive formal training in order to make something worth sharing. My boyfriend back then, who was not exactly gifted when it came to putting pencil on paper, gave a passing glance to one of my sketches one day and declared: “you need to learn to draw.” And I believed him. God, what a waste of time. And it’s not even his fault. It’s my fault for taking it the wrong way and falling from my pedestal of perfectionism and shattering to pieces, over and over again. Of course everyone needs to learn, whether to draw or to write or to sing or to bake or whatever. We can learn by doing, and that’s where the joy of it all resides.

Oof. It’s only the second week of the year and the ground under my feet’s already shaking.


Back-to-Work Angst

I am not an employee, but, like many people with regular office jobs, I got to enjoy a few days of well-deserved rest at the end of the year. Now I’m sort of dreading coming back to work. The ball’s already in motion, though: boring tasks, unexpected to-do’s, confounding correspondence, surprise events.

These first few days of the year I was able to enjoy the rare gift of clarity, knowing exactly how I wanted to spend my time and doing exactly that. Now I’m scared of losing that luxury. Of course, I could always scrape up odd bits of time and pour them into my preferred activities, but there’s always the potential for doomscrolling.

What I’m starting to see, though, is how easy it is to just keep a tab open with a running draft and returning to it whenever I start to feel a certain level of mental pushback to continuing work. This is going to be my grounding space. And if I lose my way for good and never make it back to what I’m supposed to be doing, at least I’ll have something to show for it.


A Snapshot of Me

Over the past few days, I’ve developed an urge to write. I have no idea what about—it just feels imperative. Is this what I used to feel when I was younger and used to write all the time? There used to be things simmering in my head constantly, words clamoring to be poured out, laid down like rows of bricks: walls for posterity. Something that says: This used to be my mind on a certain day. This is a snapshot of me.

Actually, this is not a spontaneous occurrence. I didn’t just wake up one day cured of all self-consciousness, ready to take on my good old blogs and open my heart to the void. What happened is that life sent a messenger my way in the form of a facilitator at a series of work events. We built rapport over our breaks, and at some point he mentioned a book he had recently read: Rick Rubin’s The Creative Act. I made a mental note to pick it up, as it seemed to me a good conversation starter for a future encounter. Was I in for a revelation.

I haven’t finished it yet, but what I’ve read so far has blown my mind. Every belief I had regarding my artistic output has been put into question. If I’m not willing to lay my heart, brain and liver on a rock under the sun for everyone to see, I might as well go seek a different endeavor, for an artist I am not. To me, that means returning to this website. This continuous series of writing exercises in two languages. This hall of mundane dioramas. I’ve been wasting precious time, letting gold nuggets slip off my fingers by refusing to acknowledge that this is not supposed to be a perfect compendium of immaculate prose on groundbreaking thoughts. I spent years, years! convinced that I was all out of ideas and therefore had nothing to write about. The few times I still tried, I was bogged down by the delusion that I had both infinite time and an obligation to polish every single idea before committing it to text, and to polish every single written sentence before moving on to the next. I inevitably let the flame peter out, defeated by the insurmountability of my own impossible system and then seduced by the numbing comfort of social media. That’s how I accumulated an astonishing number of unpublished drafts.

A week on a remote island with very little contact with the online world put the finishing touches on this new version of me. I am no longer distracted by the incoming noise. I can hear my thoughts, and I no longer care if they’re worth writing or not. That’s totally beside the point. The idea is to come back to this wall of words in the future and contemplate these mementoes of who I once was. All of this is a gift for me.