I’m avoiding writing.
I love writing. It’s part of me. I made up stories about the people who owned all the things in the catalogues when I was too little to write words. I scribbled nonsense squiggles in notebooks. (Some people, looking at my handwriting, would say that little has changed.)
But today, and for many days previous, I haven’t been doing it. Other things have gotten in the way, chewing up my brain power. Some of those things were good. Some were hard. Some were video games. Some were the way the cookie crumbles. All were not-writing.
Whenever I’m engaging in not-writing it is easier for me to cope with my fellow human beings in large doses, I resent having a day job considerably less, and I’m more likely to answer the question “How are you?” with “I’m fine,” instead of the less socially acceptable rundown of how things are going for a person I listen to who lives in my head. But, not-writing has diminishing returns. Over time, I feel wrung out, at the mercy of every little bump in the emotional road. It’s because I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m not centered when I’m not writing.
My balance isn’t centered in reality. It’s in imaginary places, or how I imagine real places might be. It’s centered in suburban New Jersey, in New York City, it’s a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. There are murders, most of the time. Sometimes there are starships. Sometimes there are murders on starships, something that has never been adequately explored in fiction. But all of it is just not here. A lot of other people are like me, but that doesn’t make me feel less alone in the doing of it.
I need the people in my head more than I need (most of the) real ones. They keep me sane. Making another world keeps me able to make sense of this one, and my place in it. Often, that place is consciously apart, in the role of observer rather than fully engaged experiencer. The only reason this is socially acceptable is because sometimes the people in my head are entertaining, and they never tell me to burn down real buildings.
There is nothing else for it, though. This is who I am, and what I’m made of. Stories, and underneath that layer of ambivalence, the tight-lipped joy of creation.
So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to do some time travel and make some magic with words. It’s the same magic that makes me love knitting and spinning. I’m taking something and making it something else, one stitch/word at a time.
Maybe I’ll avoid not-writing for a while instead.