I’ve always been a binge writer. I get into the swing of things and write like my life depends on it (which, in some ways, it does) for a while. Then I hit a block that has nothing to do with inspiration or imagination, and everything to do with self-consciousness.
When I hit that point, writing feels narcissistic. I write about myself; I get embarrassed about dwelling on my life, as though I’ve done anything profound enough to write about. (I do know that this is a bullshit attitude, I’m just breaking my pattern down.)
I don’t feel this way about other people’s work. I love getting a glimpse into another person’s life. When I feel it about myself always makes me stop and try to focus on something more noble. I start writing more on Cowbird because it is dedicated to life experiences, large and small; it provides the perfect cover. I work on short fiction, poetry, a novel; noble, acceptable forms of literature far enough removed to keep me from feeling self-indulgent.
But really, why bother with the pretense? All writing is about life, about feeling alive. David Foster Wallace said fiction is about what it’s like to be a fucking human being. Talking, writing, communicating; it’s all about understanding ourselves and (if we’re lucky) each other. Writing is about what it is to live as a human being. Why not stick to the source?
Human interaction is the thing that gives our lives meaning. I get that. I write to understand myself, and I hope the things I write help other people do the same. Maybe that’s self-indulgent, or self-centered, but so is life. How can you understand life if you don’t think about it, process it, record it?
This is a long way of saying that I see that block looming. I feel selfish and self-indulgent for spending so much time writing about my life. This time I’m going to push through.