As you may recall from my last post (which feels like so long ago), I’ve been trying to be easier on myself. One thing I’ve noticed over the past week or so is that being a Pretentious Writer Artist has really messed with my being a Person.
I’ve been so encouraged to think about how the landscape where I grew up affects my physiology and so pushed to write about my home and my identity that it’s been turning me critical towards the people and places that create that everyday life I’m supposed to be analyzing.
Even I’m sick of writing about the highway that rolls by my house like I’m some angsty female Jack Kerouac or that girl in that Tom Petty song.
Anyway, this revelation got me thinking. I’ve only been flexing my creative nonfiction-writing muscles for about a year. In that time, I’ve definitely felt as though I’ve had to distance myself from myself. I’ve had to pull back and see how various experiences fit into the narrative I want to tell. And this has been insightful and revelatory in many small ways. But there’s a catch, a sacrifice.
I’ve tried so hard to turn my life into a story that I’ve almost forgotten to live it.
It’s like recording an entire concert, watching the real, live, breathing artists in front of you through your little phone screen, and not even returning to watch them later on. Except the concert is time with your family and friends, and in your head you’re constantly shaping it, critiquing it. You’re never off.
It’s a fast way to suck the fun out of your days.
I don’t think all writers have to pay this price. I don’t think it’s necessary for the sake of this creative activity we all love.
Maybe there’s just an extra step I haven’t learned. Maybe I have to digest what I’m living before I’m able to write about it in a way that’s truly honest.
And maybe if I start writing about the positive things and people that characterize my life, reflecting on them won’t feel so burdensome.
What do you think? Have you ever had to write about or think about something that just drained you? What did you do?