Atrophy

I kind of hate writing, but I love having written. I would rather do almost anything than sit down and write a scene. But having written it, then reading it back? Pure gravy.—John August, writer

Two years can be a long time, or a short time. It all depends on your point of view. From my point of view, two years is a long time to not have anything published on this site. As it turns out, not writing for an extended time is much like not using muscles for a long time. One’s ability to achieve a meaningful result is diminished. I have atrophy of the writing muscles, which are a real thing I promise.

Just like physical muscles attached to my skeleton, which I also haven’t been working out, writing muscles need to be used and exercised to maintain their vigor. I have a lot of reasons excuses why I haven’t been wrting here for two years. I’ve been busy at work, so I feel more tired at the end of the day and don’t feel like writing. I’ve taken on more responsibilities outside of work, so I don’t have as much “free time” to write. All of my writing efforts have been directed at an attempt to focus and monetize them over at Maps & Tales. I have a long list of other hobbies1 that each take their own time (perhaps I will expound upon how those interests are all neglected, in their own right) and thus prevent me from writing while I’m doing them. Life events and random day-to-day things have prevented me from focusing on anything outside of what I need to do in the moment. Baby Yoda takes up all my waking thoughts and daydreams. I could go on.

I should also qualify what I mean about exercising my writing muscles. I can’t stop the process of writing, of telling stories, any more than I can stop myself from breathing or, to some extent, moving altogether. It’s similar, I would imagine, to how some people feel about exercising. They have to go to the gym on a regular basis, or run, or bike, or play that sport that fulfills their passion, because it’s part of who they are and it’s essential to their mental as well as physical health. I’ve never really tried force myself to stop breathing or writing, but there’s always going to be a point when my body, my very existence, will cry out and force the issue. Breathe, stupid, or you will die. I’m reaching that point with writing. I have to write. I have to eject these internal thoughts and ideas and release them into the world.

That’s really what I’m getting to here. Technically, I’m always writing. I’m always thinking about things to write about, constructing stories in my head, turning over ideas and examining their nature and how the words that could realize them fit together. But I don’t put them down on the page, literal or metaphorical. They remain trapped inside my head. I had a discussion with a fellow writer not too long ago2, wherein I posited that my tinnitus (and boy do I have it) could just be an expression of all the ideas buzzing in my head waiting to get out. It was a moment of frustrated poetry, but it’s not a bad metaphor. The arguably difficult part of writing is always happening, against my will and without prompting or invitation on my part.

What remains, then, is the mental pressure to let these ideas out. That’s where I’ve fallen short. That’s where I’ve failed to realize my potential. Doing the work. I don’t get to the gym, and I don’t get the to the keyboard. Whatever excuses reasons I have for not getting there, I’m just not getting there and making it happen. Almost every writer I admire has the same advice: you have to put your butt in the seat and do the typing. You have to pick up that pen and make the words real in the notebook. Otherwise…what’s the point of being a writer?

I’m a writer. I am a writer. So here I am typing.

  1. What’s a good collective noun for a long list of hobbies that interest me, none of which I make time for? I’m thinking maybe a “neglect of hobbies”. What do you think? 

  2. That was a good chat, Amy. 

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