stranger to myself

Okay, skip this navel-gazing post if you want. I’m pretty much just letting my fingers tap out whatever words they want in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way.

For several months I have been unable to write. I can’t seem to concentrate. I can’t enter the creative space where I find my stories. I seem locked out of my own head. (Have you ever been locked out of your house? Like you come back from a long run in your skimpy running shorts, carrying nothing more than your phone and a couple of depleted packs of GU, and you find the house locked and your wife elsewhere and not answering her phone? That’s how my brain has been lately. Oh, add two barking dogs who make a lot of noise but can’t let you in. My brain has been making a lot of noise but won’t let me in.)

On Saturday morning, in a feat of will just to persuade myself that I might still have some motivation, I looked at two of my stories that I think are more or less finished. I edited them, fine tuned them, I guess. Then I sent them to a couple of journals that are developing issues with themes that seem to match what I am trying to do with my stories. This took a lot of effort. My desire to do this didn’t come from my creative drive but from somewhere else. Maybe worry that . . . I don’t know.

(I am going somewhere with this.)

When I was reading my two stories, I was struck by how foreign they seemed. I can remember writing them, of course, but I don’t know how I picked the words I did or how I managed to structure the sentences to carry their weight. And crazy stuff like that. It was as though I was reading someone else’s stories. (A halfway decent writer, I think, whoever he is.) I was editing someone else’s stories, and I guess improving them a little, but it was as though I was never a part of their creation. Does that make sense?

This is unpleasant. It’s unpleasant enuf just to feel like a stranger to myself. But more immediately, it’s unpleasant to think that I am no longer (or at least not currently) the same person as the guy who wrote those stories. The person I am now certainly can’t write like that. (And I still have four or five Fathers and Sons stories I have to get written to complete the cycle.)

I’m not even making the notes about my stories that I occasionally would and that I could persuade myself was a type of writing. (One little idea did come up during the last week, but it wasn’t new material. It was more of a connection between two stories that I could make — if I ever write the second story.)

I’ve been told several times that I think too much. (By people whose discernment I never had much regard for.) Am I paralyzing myself with all of this introspection? Or am I on the way to a better me?

I think I know what’s at the bottom of this (not writer’s block), but that bottom is pretty deep and getting there to deal with it ain’t no fun, folks. Writing has been a part of my entire adult life (and most of my childhood once I figured out how fiction can transport a person). I suspect I’ll get back to it, get back to that creative space in my noisy brain where I find my stories. I’m not asking for pity (and certainly not empathy). I’m just “introspecting” and writing this post to see if there is still something in me, biding its time and waiting to return.

Yeah, it sucks!

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Explore posts in the same categories: Process, Rants and ruminations

3 Comments on “stranger to myself”


  1. In my own experience that sense of alienness from myself is a cardinal sign of depression. It may be different for you, but that is how it has been for me.


  2. There are times I just get burned out on feeling like I have to do something. I used to write every day — no fail. Now I shoot for more days than not, and I don’t even write to a schedule. Used to be I was up at 5:00 and writing. Still happens, but sometimes I sleep those extra 1-2 hours and write after dinner.

    But even then, sometimes I hit a point where I feel like writing is another thing I have to do, when all I want to do is relax. I allow those weeks. If it went on for months, it would probably be an overall sense of burnout with everything for me.

    I’m glad you at least working on a couple stories and submitted them. Simply by doing that, you’ve done much more to actually have something happen with your writing than me!

  3. Diane Says:

    It’s funny, I usually fell that way about my writing, but it doesn’t bother me. The experience of both remembering writing something, but feeling more like I must have been a conduit than creator is fascinating – and kind of humbling, in a good way. Of course, you are describing something more profound, but just in a discussion of writing – I always like the sense of reading something I know I wrote, not feeling identified with it even as it’s intimate, and that conclusion you had – that it’s good writing. Gratifying.


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