Ever since I moved to Seattle, I decided to tell myself, and others, that I am not a writer. Any more. Sometimes I add that qualification, sometimes, I do not.
I think and talk about creativity in my life, and how I need a ‘creative outlet,’ or something to ‘quench my creative energies.’ Amit said over drinks, but you are a writer. And I trotted out my rejoinder, and then looked it over really for the first time in a while, and considered it rather worn.
If I was a writer once, I couldn’t really slough it off. I am reading Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, now. She has a foreword or preface to it in this edition where she speaks of the ‘work of a writer,’ or ‘doing work.’ She was a journalistic writer of course, and her work was that of people like Capote or Hunter Thompson – meeting their subjects or investigating them, collating the details of other people’s lives, recording conversations and observations on movie sets and in courtrooms.
I am not that kind of writer. I can’t write fiction because I can’t construct a plot – at least, I couldn’t write a novel. I can tell lies, and I can imagine scenes, but I can’t understand Plot. I imagine always that it is because I don’t understand anyone’s motivations, really, and perhaps only marginally do better at understanding my own. A form of being ‘on the spectrum’ is my own writer’s handicap. It seems to foreclose some possibilities of being a writer.
The familiar exhortation to do work, is to write every day. Of course, that calls for a diurnal rhythm to inspiration or motivation that seems absurd. It isn’t like brushing one’s teeth, because the toothbrush and toothpaste don’t need me to define the subject, an object, and an action. Two are sitting in a glass jar underneath the bathroom cabinet, and one lies rotting in my mouth.
It became obvious to me in the last few days that any writing I will do now, can only use me to fill those blanks in. I, doing me-ness, to me. Yes, I confess – part of my aversion to write is a fear that in committing to this solipsistic exercise, I will have to face the utter nothingness of my creative limits and of my own being. When I have written ten thousand words about myself, and find I cannot write any more, where does that leave my own infinite perfectibility?