I must enjoy self-flagellation, for I keep finding ways to torture myself.
I’m sure there are other people out there who write for similar reasons that I do, but they’re either not admitting it, or they are few and far between. I’ve known a great number of writers over the years and I would easily say that most of them, when we start discussing the “whys” of writing, tend to back of slowly, never taking their eyes off me until they are safely out of my reach, at which point they run. Or they use the put-down to de-fang my reasons. Or they just plain don’t get it and ignore me.
Even as I write this and try to find the words to describe those whys and find that I’m caught up in a bind. For all the writing I do, I can’t really put my fingers on the right words for the whys of writing what I write. Am I processing some emotions? Sometimes, but never always. Am I agonizing? Nearly always.
It is usually the same things? I suppose I trend towards unrequited passions, loneliness, love (sometimes I wonder what that really is), depression and pain. I also hit on a lot what I’ll call haiku topics, although I’m sure someone who is smarter than me and finds it important to be precise about it knows of a better word.
The best I can say is that I’m obsessed with wordplay and I am almost never satisfied with what I produce, and so I get all twisted up inside until I try once again to express something that I generally will accept in advance is inadequate. But that’s more of a how than a why.
I can relate to artists, people who feel like they might have similar whys that I have and similarly couldn’t express those whys into words…
What possessed Ian Curtis from Joy Division? What drove Jim Morrison from the Doors? What were the demons that drove Van Gogh? Why did Salinger lock himself away? I’m not putting my poor verse and prose on their levels (and forget about any visual artistry), but I think I understand the thing that made them what they were because it haunts me in a similar way. I see things, hear things, feel things that seem like so much that the only way to move beyond them is to write them down. But it’s never enough and never good enough. So I look back at all my failed attempts and want to burn the lot of the writing, delete it, erase it from the face of the earth — only I have made a promise to myself not to do that for whatever unknown reason I made that promise. There are times that it seems more trouble than it’s worth.
And then I write something else. Not because I want to. But because it’s trapped and I need to get it out.
I only wish I had better, more talented demons instead of these cast-off hacks.