Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What it is like when I am not writing.

I think one reason I named this blog Full of Baloney because I wanted to to be clear with everyone--I don't really know what I am talking about.

That was the way I wanted to present myself--don't worry, everyone else, I won't stomp on anyone's toes. I don't really mean what I say. This was because I was afraid.

I feel like I am very slowly becoming aware of the intense fear that is almost always present in my entire body. It burns beneath my stomach, threatening to take over at any moment. It has the threat of flame and its aftermath, extinction. Where does fear ever end?

At first, it feels like never. The fear feels infinite. So then what is the point of feeling it? So I just try to avoid it, as much as I can, just go on with my life.

Little did I know, that I was carrying this fear in everything that I was doing, all the time, regardless. We have no choice over which emotions we feel. We just have choice over how we interpret them, contextualize them, attach them to a 'story' about who we are, rationalize them, ignore them, project them on to other people, etc. The best thing we can do is just to experience them, as raw as possible. I don't want to make that sound too simplistic, though. It is extremely challenging. 

This is why I often do the same destructive things to myself over and over--this can be repetitively seeking out abusive dynamics, all shades of addictions, or just preventing myself from my own inner desires. When you are caught by fear, you just want anything that has a predictable outcome, that is highly controllable. In moments I know that these behaviors don't make me feel good, but I can't stop them because then the feelings just come floating in, pervasive. It is a difficult trap, but the opening is knowing that not only am I avoiding the difficult feelings, but I have prevented myself from so many of the positive ones as well. 

Avoiding fear, for me, has lead to a paralyzing, frustrating numbness that pervades my life. One of the hardest parts is that I know this and yet it is still there, ever present, lurking.

Writing has always been such a challenge, because I am someone who wants to please people and had been quite willing to sacrifice my own desires in order to do so. But it is quite impossible to both please everyone and be true to your own voice. I have a ways to go in this department, but if nothing else I no longer want to claim that I don't 'really' believe in what I am writing. I don't want to hedge my bet in any way. This is me, trying to be as real as I know how to be. I will fail. There are so many things I haven't figured out yet, I know I'll write stuff that will look so ridiculous to a future me. But I have to embrace my own transformation if I want to change.

There have been so many twisted excuses that have prevented me from writing. There's no point to writing, it's not something I need to be doing, I don't have a clear enough idea of what I want to write about, I am just trying to write for some imagined fame or fortune, if I don't do it perfectly the first time, every time, there is no point. I will think of anything to stop myself. This is what it is like all the time when I am not writing, just a circular, hysterical anxiety. Excuses that go through my mind, pulsing, intense, seemingly air tight, logical, sensible, correct, and yet, somehow, I have stayed up long enough to write this piece, and will publish it. There is this incredible energy that is released when I do what I am afraid of.


  1. Kez - I am obsessed with this essay. I feel every word you wrote, and I have some thoughts. And sometimes for me, it helps to have a little positive reinforcement. So here goes:

    First of all, you are an excellent writer - you dig so deep but stay clear, even when discussing ideas that lack clarity or the idea of unclear-ness itself. Based solely on your writing, there is no question to me that a) your mind functions on an incredibly high level analytically and morally, and b) that you are concerned with and capable of real struggle (necessary) and self-improvement (always a plus).

    I find it helpful when I'm scared to try to imagine the scary thing as an adventure story, which serves both to make it seem exciting and to create distance between my ego and the protagonist of the adventure - to remove myself from a self-centered stream-of-consciousness point of view and try to think of myself as an agent in a story, of whom I want to and ought to be proud. When it comes to writing, this idea has an obvious doubling - and I think you are there. I think you don't have to worry about it being perfect, because to me you are already writing above the level at which I am drawn to read, and far above the level at which I would try to convince someone to do something else instead. And the great thing is, you have so many other interests - unrelated passions are good fodder for writing, but they are also things that the art of writing will help you think through. I think people like you can only build resilience against anxiety by writing because you invest so much in problems and dig so deep to find them - you have to work them out, make them real, take them out of your head and play with them and make progress.

    Here's a thought: If not writing makes you anxious, and writing allows you to make progress with your ideas, then it follows that not making progress with your ideas causes you anxiety and, inversely, that when you're not anxious you make progress with your ideas. So maybe writing is your ticket to alleviating anxiety. But you're scared of writing - which makes me think that maybe anxiety and fear, though similar, are also mutually exclusive and eternally engaged in battle: reducing anxiety requires accepting fear, and reducing fear requires accepting anxiety. But only one of these choices begets progress.

    A final thought: David Foster Wallace, who wrote incredibly awesome stuff, was obsessed with self-help books. But he didn't write about self-help very successfully (though it obviously contributed to the incredible depth of his work, before he killed himself... - let's be thankful for our lack of perfected literary prowess, too!). Writing about overcoming personal struggles is very valuable for self-improvement and undoubtedly therapeutic, but I wonder if maybe you'd find writing about other stuff - obscure cultural realms, minutiae, impossible worlds, fictional characters that you don't understand but try to anyway - offers a freedom that alleviates anxiety on even higher levels (because it is also scarier, even farther from your ego). Even the least personal writing invariably becomes infused with your preoccupations, your moral voice, essentially your soul - so I think it can be just as important and dear to the world, and to your self.

    I love you so much, can't wait to see you.

  2. this is such a touching response. i love you too! I am so glad we'll be together soon!

  3. Hello! Did you ever deal such a situation when a random person has robbed you online and took any of your personal ideas? Waiting forward to hear your answer.

  4. Hi Brandon,

    I don't really know if that has ever happened to me, at least not that I know of.