If I had to define myself in one word, of what I am and stand for, something that people would immediately recognize and understand and go, “Oh, that makes sense,” that one word would be “Artist.” I have no qualms with that. It’s fairly encompassing of what I do and am and believe. For a while though, from about age 16-22 that word was “Writer.” But that never really fully covered all the things I like to do, even if writing was this intense passion that allowed me to create in a depth that couldn’t be captured in a drawing or photograph or song or design.
But then I stopped writing.
It’s been nearly 15 years since I wrote something that was original. Well, since I finished something original. Why? Partly because life got in the way, the way life will. Partly because I kinda ran out of things to write about. But mostly because I was scared.
I’m a very superstitious person. If I change lanes and don’t hit the little bumpy things, I worry that something bad will happen. I’ll even changes lanes again just to hit them. And I was superstitious about writing. For some reason (well, because my mind has a way of making things out of nothing, hence creativity) I started to make a correlation between writing and bad events. Long story short (cos I like short stories), I was held up at the video store where I worked and attributed it to writing. Yes, I’m that superstitious. But I got back into it, but with great trepidation. Still, in the back of my mind, there was this little voice alongside the one reading my stories as I typed them out (yes, that’s really what it’s like). This other voice was whispering that if I kept writing, something bad would happen. And it slowly got louder and louder until it drowned out the other voice. And I stopped writing.
You could say it was writers’ block. I called it hell.
When my first son was born, I was terrified that, if I did write something, that whispering (now screaming) voice would prove right, and it was a risk I wasn’t willing to take. Besides, I hadn’t finished anything in years. I was working in advertising, doing well with that, and I started to not miss writing anyway.
Nearly 15 years after finishing the last thing I wrote, I’ve made a short film (which was based on a story from way, way back) and am tackling writing a feature. Something original. So far, that doomsayer has been quiet, but, to a certain extent, so has the one that told me what to write. I haven’t had that rush of adrenaline I had back in college when I was up all night, busting out a story, surviving on coffee and cigarettes – those nights I’d pace the room, sweating and vibrating. Probably from all the caffeine and nicotine, but also because I was so caught up in the tale that was flowing across the screen. Word after word. Sentence after sentence. My fingers banging away to keep up with the voice in my head that was equally hopped up on stimulants and passion.
So, why bring this up now? I don’t know. It just struck me looking to the weekend that I’d finally have a chance to get back into the new script and – instead of that anticipation I felt while in class, barely able to sit still until I could get back to the apartment and get back to my laptop and the story left behind waiting to be finished – I kinda feel like, ugh.
I miss the days so long gone, when I’d lie down on the crappy, torn up couch I had in my office, hide inside my huge headphones and drift off to that happy, peaceful world of nothingness where creativity lives. Just lying there – not sleeping – just floating, relaxing, rejuvinating. And then I’d smoke a cigarette, drink some coffee and start writing again. Now, my “free” time is spent yelling at the kids, cleaning the pool, catching up on what’s on DVR and not doing much of anything creative.
That crappy couch is long gone, but, I think, when all goes to shit this weekend, I may bust out the big headphones, crank some Nine Inch Nails (Broken always got me where I wanted to go), and get back to that creative netherworld.