Came here to write some words about things. Not sure what kind of things. I suppose that’s why I’m here. To figure out what those things are. I always feel like a free write like this is a means to an end, but maybe it would be more productive to think of it as the destination itself. Every time. Writing in this way, unstructured and untamed, can undoubtedly feel aimless. Even if, along the way, I gather intel like golden tokens in a pixelated video game, it still doesn’t feel as though this is the most “productive” I could be making my craft. And it is in recognizing that line of thinking that I realize I am writing to produce proof of something. I am writing for others, not for myself. In my many aimless years of being a Writer in Progress, unemployed and untethered, I have been writing and consuming things with the end goal of having proof that I have done something. Writing samples as proof of being a writer. And when I think about how nonexistent my portfolio is, my belief in myself as a writer, maybe even as a person, wanes tenfold.
The key to “succeeding” in the way that I want to succeed is cutting out all that noise. “Times when I think a mind uncluttered with others is the only condition for gentleness,” Jenny Xie writes in her poem “Solitude Study.” I have experienced that gentleness. I have known that gentleness. I also recall that it came with the sad realization that I had obtained that gentleness by making myself wholly unavailable to others, in such a way that would allow me to completely clear others and their expectations of me from my mind. It was a very creatively fulfilling time for me, but at the end of it, when I came back to Earth, I couldn’t come to terms with how much it required me to just… burrow deeper into myself and farther from everyone else. I loved being able to cultivate my inner self so deeply, but I couldn’t make peace with just how much solitude it required.
Even now, in this apartment with one other roommate who gives me the space I need, I still feel as though my self is divided. There’s no peace to be found in that kind of division. I can’t think of any other time in which it would be feasible to burrow into myself again. I have obligations. I have other people to think of. And sometimes I find myself very resentful of that. And then, not too long after, I am reminded that a part of me is yearning for this solitude so that I can create something that might be good enough to get me a job so that I can support the people who have supported me. It’s an exhausting cycle that always ends up at the realization that I have always been motivated to do things for others. And when I get to that realization, I am sad all over again.