This should make my wife happy.
I drink when I write.
I don’t do it because I feel like I can only be creative if I’ve got alcohol in my system, although I will admit that it’s much easier to access that part of my brain with some liquid assistance. I’ll also admit that it’s fun to read something I wrote the night before and be surprised at how good it is. But, no, I don’t use alcohol as a form of inspiration. I don’t need it to actually create.
I need alcohol to get past the feeling that none of it matters.
I should point out that this isn’t always the case, but it’s close. My “writer’s block” isn’t that I don’t have anything to write about, it’s that I don’t think any of the things I’ve got in my head are worth the time and effort. Is the world screaming for another YA book? Is my life so interesting that it needs to be shared? Why would anyone read a review of “Rise of the Midnight Sons?” Who even reads my blog anymore?
I am so envious of people who can just sit down and write for pleasure that it sometimes make me want to kill them.
Being content to write for pleasure is a foreign concept to me. I like to think that, if I were paid to write, it would be easier. That somehow financial compensation, which also suggests that people are actually reading my work, would motivate me, would convince me that what I’m doing is worthwhile. And as much as it pains me to say it, I think that’s true. I think even validation in the form of money would be enough.
But there are very few people who get to do that.
So how do I explain those who write for fun? Those who are content to sit at their computer, submerged in the reality of their work, unconcerned about whether or not anyone will actually read what they’re writing? Who are these people who are happy enough to be able to do that? Why doesn’t that seem like a waste of time to them?
I suppose the answer is in the question. They’re “happy enough to be able to do that” because writing makes them happy. So it’s not a waste of time.
But that’s not who I am. I love having written. I love going to write. I have a complex relationship with the actual writing. I very often don’t see the point in it. It takes everything I’ve got just to sit in front of my computer and even then whether I actually get any work done or not is a crap shoot.
Instead I could look at our finances. That’s important. I can check my work email – I get paid for that. I can work on my to do list. I can go on Twitter and Facebook and “talk” to people, which gives me immediate satisfaction. Writing is hard and it takes forever and I’d like some happiness right now, please.
Or I can play with my son, assuming he’s awake. I could spend some time with my wife since we never see each other anymore or, when we do, it’s while taking care of our son. Maybe we could have actual conversations. Maybe we could have a date.
I know that if I don’t write, I start to get even moodier than normal. It’s often my wife’s go-to question when I’m in a funk or acting out (not unlike a child). “Have you written lately?” Because she knows that it’s an indirect form of therapy for me. Even if I’m not writing about myself, the act of creating has a positive impact on me. But that positive impact is often hard to see until I’ve actually done it.
There are so many other things that have a positive impact on me, though. So many easier things.
So how do I do it? How do they do it? How do I just sit down and write, rest of the world be damned, need for validation be damned, need for immediate satisfaction be damned? How do I convince myself that this short story, this novel, this column, this review, needs to exist?
Why does this matter?
Happiness isn’t reason enough for me to do much of anything, which is part of the problem.
Happiness is being with my wife and son, but that’s not the only thing going on when I’m with them. I’m making both of them happy, too. I’m helping to raise our son. I’m doing something important, so I don’t question it. The validation for my actions is right there in front of me.
And maybe that’s why writing doesn’t make me happy while I’m doing it, because doing something solely to make myself happy isn't something I understand. I need a reason, and without one, I can’t accept doing it. If I don’t have a reason other than just because “it makes me happy,” then it won’t make me happy.
So I guess that’s the question, then: how do I accept doing something just because it makes me happy? How do I get past the need for it to be anything more and how do I get past that need being some kind of validation? How do I just enjoy the experience for what it is on its own?
I have no idea. Not a one.
It actually feels like the great hurdle of my existence, because I think it’s something that extends far beyond just writing. Even if it doesn’t, the impact it would have on my work would be huge.
The impact it would have on my liver would be pretty big, too.