I am having a hard time writing these days. I keep thinking that everything I write is stale, boring, and redundant. Fiction and non-fiction. Why say anything when it’s all been said before? Or, conversely, why say anything when no one gives a fuck what I have to say? Not me personally, though there is a dose of that as well, but someone in my demo. I’m an old, fat, bisexual Taiwanese single woman, and when you put all those together, it adds up to one big pile of who gives a fuck?
I’ve been reading some old posts/fiction writing I’ve done, and I used to be really good. On social media, I’ve made a declaration that I’ve changed my name and my party because being a right-winger as a writer is waaaaaay more lucrative than being a bleeding heart liberal. I changed my name to Lily White, and I changed my avatar to a stock photo of a blond woman conservatively dressed, sitting in a prim pose. I’ve included it at the top of this post. In doing so, I remembered that I had threatened to change parties before for the same reason. I dug up some old posts I wrote on the subject, and damn it, they were fucking hilarious. Here’s an archive of the posts if you want to peruse them.
What’s changed since then? Too much online consumption. You probably think I’m being facetious, but I’m not. Most of my Twitter feed is very politically involved, and while that’s generally a good thing, there’s a downside–I’ll get to it in a second. One of the things that tripped me up growing up was how constantly I was told on a subconscious level that my opinion at best didn’t matter and at worst was full of shit. For many years, I felt as if I didn’t have a core, and whatever anyone else said automatically was right regardless of what I thought/felt. I’ve gotten better at it, but it still lingers.
Twitter reinforces those feelings when I get a million* tweets saying something with which I don’t agree. I start doubting myself, and I stop wanting to talk about that issue. For example, policing how other people talk, the liberal version. People trying to show how woke they are by constantly pointing out how oppressive other people is wearing me the fuck out. It’s a good thing to think about other people, but it’s taken to an extreme that makes me uncomfortable. Also, just because YOU think something is problematic, it doesn’t mean it actually is. One example, the word stupid. I don’t use it about people (“He’s stupid”), but I do use it about ideas, actions, experiences, etc (“This is stupid. I’m not doing it.”). Some people strenuously say that it’s ableist, and while I can maybe see it for the former, I don’t see it in the latter case.
Some words have multiple meanings and focusing on one to the exclusion of others is ludicrous. One I can speak even more definitively about is depression. Some people who have it get upset when people use it in this way, “I was so depressed today that I had to work late.” They say it’s appropriation, diminishing what actual depression feels like. As someone who has experienced severe depression as well as low-grade depression, I call bullshit on this. Even if the other person isn’t using depressed in exactly the ‘correct’ manner, you know what they mean. That’s half of communication–getting your meaning across.
Again, it boils down to people wanting to prove they’re woker than everyone else. It’s a sense of smug superiority, and I see it mostly online. Ironically, the same people who are so quick to point out other people’s trip-ups are incredibly resistant when they get called out themselves. It’s almost as if people don’t like it when they’re publicly berated about their behavior/words in a harsh fashion. Who would have thunk it?
Look. I’m not saying we shouldn’t bring up issues. Obviously, we haven’t gotten as far as we’ve come by not questioning the status quo. But, part of the questioning is realizing that you may not always be right. Also, there are varying degrees of offense, and treating everything as an outrage just causes people to tune you out. If you’re constantly interrupting people to nitpick their word choice, they may decide you’re not worth talking to. We rely on heuristics, and, again they’re worth questioning, but not everything needs to be about you personally. That’s really what it boils down to in many cases, and I can’t help but resent that there are certain issues that are considered sacrosanct on the left, whereas some aren’t even on anyone’s radar–such as many of the issues I listed at the beginning.
All of this is my long-way round way of saying that all of this is in my head when I write. I try to block it out, but it’s not easy. So, when I’m writing, I have all these, “You can’t say that” phrases rattling through my brain. It’s a killer for a creative type because there should be no boundaries in arts.** There should be editing and judicious decisions, but that comes later in the process. When I write, I’m at my best when I can just pour it all on the paper as it comes to my brain.
Anyway, I’ve been cutting back on social media. I don’t check it Wednesdays and Saturdays, and I’m thinking of adding another day (probably Monday). At some point, I may disengage completely, but I feel that’s the nuclear option. What I need to do is become more comfortable just not giving a fuck. It’s hard, though, because the mantra of the left is, “You’re oppressing someone with that language!”, and that’s a hard thing to fight without looking as if you’re not ‘checking your privilege’. Which, by the way, I think is a shitty thing to say to someone.
In addition, I’ve been re-reading some of the more recent things I’ve written, and it’s actually better than I think it is as I’m writing it. I am my own harshest critic, and I let my negativity get in my way. I think the key is for me to start working on the more business side of being creative–maybe if I get published I’ll stop feeling like a fucking impostor. Or maybe I just have to accept that I’ll always read my own writing with a highly-critical eye. The one thing I don’t want to do, however, is allow it to stop me from writing. My depression tells me that my writing is shit and that I might as well give up. It’s hard to ignore it every day, which makes me think I probably should find another therapist. Well, there are other reasons for that as well, but this is a major one as writing is life to me.
**My feelings about dictating what artists can and can’t do are complicated, and I’ve written about them in other posts.