WARNING: This piece deals with anxiety and contains references to depression, family issues, self-loathing, and includes a heap of colorful language
I am blocked.
I have a bounty of ideas, a full whiteboard, notebooks scattered about over my apartment, and 50 or so drafts and half-completed pieces on my computer. For the last several months, every dandy idea gets lost between the time of conception and the moment of publication; in fact, there's a probability of about 95 to one that you'll never read this. But why am I so non-productive?
Well, it all boils down to anxiety and how I deal with it and how it relates to my literary output.
For me, writing is something that has historically been effortless. Despite having had utterly dreadful English teachers in school, I was a kid who could compose a thousand-word Geography essay on the bus ride from nowhere to the Middle of Nowhere, where the school was located. All was well and good until I had an English teacher who used to make you write mini-essays for the first 15 minutes of every class. Prior to this stress exercise, you would see just how shitty he thought your previous effort was, and I would PANIC. I could not sit and automatically generate a poem, or thesis, or anything related to a bookshelf, or grass, or whatever other inane word he had scrawled on the board. I knew I was screwed, so after a month or so of empty sheets of Mead college rule, I began writing lists.
The first one was a Shit List. Even though Mr. X's name was on it, he gave me a decent score. After recovering from the sheer shock of him not writing some demeaning comment, I continued. I wrote a list every single day of that class, and even though the prof hated my guts, I survived long enough to score a 96 on the final exam and get away from my nemesis. Now here's where the blogging comes in.
I have been penning and burning diary entries, sports stories, and random essays since I was a small child. I apparently began reading and writing at a young age. (and doing a ton of other things ahead of my peers, but we'll get to it at another time.) Of my 2 childhood memories, one is of me building a little village out of recycled materials after reading about it in a Sesame Street book. I have since found out that I was 3 at the time. So...back to the writing.
I'm sure that my journal entries were page after page of drivel, however, when I was 13 or 14, it became very apparent that the first of my dickheaded stepdads had been going through my belongings for a very long time. He began giving me shit for things I had thought but not said and for things I had only done in the confines of my bedroom. (it was actually a cement-floored storage room, but it was mine, so there.) After that, I incinerated everything I had ever written and only wrote about topics I was emotionally distant from, like the Flyers-Oilers rivalry. For well over a decade, I became so paranoid that I burned or shredded everything emotive, even when living by myself. Whenever I lagged, a visiting relative or person I was seeing would read my shit and then give me shit, so I internalized my feelings or destroyed all evidence of my humanness.
Cue the advent of MySpace.....
I began blogging on MySpace and similar sites some years ago. I had a decent enough job and still felt tremendous guilt whenever something personal would be touched on. A given post would only garner 10 or 15 views, but I was still highly restrained, and I still was for at least the first year on this platform. After a short while, people I had never met were tuning in. Lots of them. And with the number came a recycling of vintage neuroses that includes a ton of internalized shame. I embarrass incredibly easily. It may not show on the surface, but real or imagined guilt over uttering a single misplaced word in a conversation 10 years ago can stay with me.
Herein lies a problem, or rather several. Sometimes writing is therapeutic and it often deals with difficult subjects that cause people to feel things. There may be references to child abuse, mental illness, violence, alcoholism, and other nastiness that I figured occurred in every family until very recently. With the increase in numbers comes a sea of folks who may not be comfortable with me emptying the family litter box.
One of my personal anxieties comes to sex. I used to frequently discuss my feelings about so-and-so, masturbation, sex toys, and all sorts of things, but I feel extremely sheepish now because my pop and others read the not-so dinnerlike conversation. I get so freaked out that I censor pieces until there's nothing left because I have the irrational fear of giving Aunt So-And-So a myocardial infarction.
On the subject of embarrassment, I've created enough to last several lifetimes. If you scroll around enough, you'll find misogyny and transphobia; Islamophobia and migrant-bashing; religious fervour and equally ardent antitheism. To the reader, this may simply be a serious of downs and ups, but to me, much of this is an account of some of the most ridiculous ideas to escape my often disturbed mind. I was afraid of myself and transferred it upon others because that's what self-loathing, people-pleasing douchebags often do. I made horrible judgment calls and typed some things I no longer agree with and I apologize.
Next, we have the more current content. I really hate being ripped for things like syntax, but I loathe upsetting my readers more. Underneath my tough veneer is someone who has been hurt, yet doesn't want to cause pain in my fellow beings. The difficulty I experience is often with language itself. I'm not always up-to-date on the latest terminology and can say things that annoy some, albeit unintentionally so. Additionally, there may be veiled or overt references to discrimination, rape, abuse, sexism, racism, gaybashings and a slew of things not for the faint-of-heart. The content contained within these pages is an account of a very personal journey, even when it isn't obvious. My own issue is that I don't want to offend my non-family-member readership as well while still making whatever point it is I'm attempting to make.
Another dilemma is right here at home. I have a lot of insecurities, but the most recent ones arise from my personal transitions. I currently reside in a building with 42 fairly sheltered people who sometimes say absolutely awful things to me that trigger feelings of inadequacy or dysphoria. Also, I'm on the ground floor, so there are plenty of people just dropping by unannounced and I have been having difficulty dealing with all of their psychological issues as well. It's difficult to work on yourself when you have someone either reading over your shoulder or blabbing about their ex who just got out of jail, especially when most of your personal quirks arose from privacy violations.
So what to do? I think I'll be honest from here on out. I'm not going to sanitize my expression but I'll try not to rip anyone's heart out. I'm going to mention the things that make me hate myself and want to blow my brains out, as well as those that bring me tremendous joy. There may be some content that makes you feel, but I need one safe place in my chaotic life, and this is it. To my family, I'm not going to apologize, because if reading about my sexual quirks, political viewpoints, and possibly the stupid shit you have done to negatively affect others disturbs you, find something else to read.As for the old stuff, I'm going to keep it because it's a record of my emotional and sociological learning curve.
And there is work to continue. If I don't give myself a break and stop beating myself about the head for possessing similar emotive qualities to other members of the species, I will wind up in the hospital for the **th time. Thusly, I'm going to work on the whole not hanging myself with my intestines thing, and you're invited to watch.
So, am I going to turn into an asshole? Quite the contrary. I'm going to alert you if what you're about to read is heavy. With awareness of my own anxieties comes a respect for those of others. There will be things discussed that are of a sensitive nature, so in order to continue doing what I do, I will give you an idea of what you're in for and you can decide for yourself whether or not your psyche can tolerate the content of an individual piece. This new policy is not just for the benefit of younger/family/easily triggered readers, but for my conscience. I need to be able to free my mind without fucking up any of you. Also, if you see, hear, or read anything that makes your blood boil, feel free to comment or email me.
Here it begins. If it's your first time on here, I'll warn you that nothing published prior to this has been tagged. There are some frank discussions of rape, murder, child neglect, drug use, but also pieces about the origins of the toilet and frontal wedgies. It's mostly politics, but there's some weird shit back there. Periculo tuo ingredere.
By the way, I think that block thing may have been given a swift kick in the tuchas. Stay tuned.