The other night, as I lay in bed at three in the morning between nightmares (not being poetic there, actual nightmares – sleeping under a thick comforter during a heat wave in July gives you very strange dreams), I started thinking about the weird writing problems I’ve been having lately. I already went into a lot of this last week, but since then I’ve also reached a point where I’ve begun hating everything I’ve written and every new idea I have.
“What the hell is wrong with me?” I thought, kicking off the sweaty comforter. “Has my writing not gotten better? Oh shit, has my writing gotten worse?” I tried to think back to a time when I liked my writing. Ironically, the time I was probably happiest with my writing was the same time I was unhappiest in every other way: the summer when I was fifteen and struggling with a pitch-black depression that I nearly didn’t survive.
My writing definitely wasn’t better back then; it was total shit. Funny shit at times, but still shit. But my closest friend at the time, the man I eventually fell in love with, liked it. It made him laugh at a time when he, too, was struggling with severe depression. What once had been writing for myself became writing for him, trying to make him feel better. I don’t know whether it actually worked or not, but it gave me the reason for writing that I still have today: to (hopefully) make people feel better about this whole “being alive” thing.
Maybe my writing will never be good enough to do that; after all, the man I used to write those stories for eventually drank himself to death anyway. But maybe whether you succeed or fail isn’t the point. Maybe the point is just to try.
I’m starting to think that that’s the problem – that in this whole mess of editing and rewriting I’d forgotten that I do have an audience somewhere out there, even if they haven’t seen any of my writing yet. And I don’t know, maybe one of them really actually does need something I’ve written or will write, no matter how stupid it is. The only thing I’m certain of is that they’ll never get it if I don’t write it.