Some days are less good than others. I’m writing this at the end of one of those days, and it might be a bit too squishy a look into my life for you, but I’m going to write this anyway. The About page does advertise “unfiltered emotions,” after all; it’s about time I lived up to that claim.
It’s a less-good day for a slew of reasons. Some are things that happened and some are things that didn’t happen. Things I said and things I should have said but didn’t. And most importantly, some things I didn’t do.
I’m not sure what’s been wrong with me lately. At the heart of it, I think, the truth is that I’ve been afraid. Most creative people know what that feeling is like — the fear that you’re losing your touch, or never had it to begin with. For a while, I’ve been wondering whether I’m headed downhill. I put a novel on hold to work on something else. But then I stopped working on that — I couldn’t say why — and the longer I put it off, the more guilty and ashamed I become, and I want even less to go back to it. I wrote huge, compelling literary analysis papers last semester that impressed even me, and so far this semester I’ve been unsure how to dip into that scholarly well at all.
My blogging has taken a similar turn. More and more I’ve started to feel like it lacks any substance. Last week’s (failed) attempt at reviewing my very favorite Doom WAD ever left me with some big worries. I was honestly relieved to find that I’d missed the anniversary because everything I’d written up to that point had felt empty anyway. All I could do, it seemed, and it has seemed for a while, was say that something is wonderful — but not explain why it’s wonderful. That bothers me, to know that I love something but to be unable to find that core truth of why it matters so much to me.
Have I just lost it? Is everything downhill from here? Was any of this writing business worth it at all?
Well… no, no, and yes, respectively, to answer my own questions. No skill up and leaves you like that — but inspiration does ebbs and flow. The more you accept that, the worse it will be. What I mean to say is that a moment, a day, a week of feeling like you’re not good enough — that’s normal. But that doesn’t mean you don’t keep pressing on, and that’s where I’ve made the greatest mistake. I’ve delayed and made excuses and put on the back burner, and all any of that does is feed back into the original problem. Sooner or later, you’ve convinced yourself that you really aren’t good enough anymore. There’s no other conclusion to come too — look how little work you’ve done lately!
It’s a classic vicious cycle. A vicious loop, I should say, and my first two weeks of C has taught me something about loops (which is probably wrong but it works for this metaphor): If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can very easily set up a loop that goes on forever and ever and on into infinity. While my impression is that it’s often an ugly fix, sometimes you need to know where to throw in a break, just so you don’t continue spiraling toward the end of time. We can find a more elegant solution later; right now, what’s important is breaking the cycle.