A Study in Writer’s Paralysis

I do not have writer’s block. I don’t know the last time I actually did have writer’s block. I remember a seven-month period beginning in the summer of 2003 when I had writer’s block, and maybe a four- to five-month period a few years after that, but I can’t recall exactly having it, or when, since.

I write a lot less poetry than I used to. I haven’t churned out poetry in three years the way I used to. I need space and time, a place and a period where I can breathe freely, find myself in natural settings, and in a slower-paced environment than city life in NYC can ever possibly offer. I haven’t even been able to write during this dark, harsh, depressing winter that we are trying to get through as I write, with a month still to go. And it has been deepest winter during which I seem to write so naturally and freely, but not this year. I find myself reading more and more nonfiction, running out of the classics that interest me or can possibly move me to write the way I used to, in response to the language, the passion, the characters and their stories. And I am not yet ready to start rereading books, as I know there is some fiction and plenty of nonfiction for me to still read, explore, and absorb before I do. As for poetry, I have read so much and have no desire to read more of it; it is rare when I read it. Modern and contemporary poetry does not and has not ever been able to move me, provoke me, the way the poets of long ago do and have done. Maybe having lost my youth almost a decade ago, I can no longer dream, desire, or be drowned by the passion that poetry used to fill me with. I seem to be all void now.

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With my admission that I read more nonfiction of late than any other genre, it is no wonder that I only write blog posts and the occasional critical essay. But even the latter have become few and far between now, leaving only the space of a blog to write any thoughts, and after three months of not having written a word in my journal, I have slowly begun to do so again.

As the reader may be realizing, I don’t suffer from writer’s block, but rather what I call “writer’s paralysis.” This paralysis has been my companion for quite a while now. I know it started two years ago, emerging with a true lack of time to write, morphing into no space and no silence in which to write as well, then became psychologically entrenched in the resignation to the thought that “I have nothing left to say. I have said everything I wanted to say,” and then transformed into the statement, “I don’t want to write anymore. I have no desire to and no one reads what I write anyway.” In all truth, I actually have too much to say, which is part of the problem, since time seems to be at a premium, and when I do have the time I don’t have the desire to write or the mental space in which I can let myself go and become one with myself, with the ideas, the emotions (when I do have those), and the language that come from me.

And when I do write, it seems I no longer write about myself. And this needs explanation. When I write essays or blog posts they are more or less an intellectual discussion of an idea that I think about often, have an opinion on, and a strong knowledge about and deep interest in. In a way, I am writing about myself, in terms of my interests and opinions, but the level of autobiography and personal self found in the text is superficial. I write critical essays, as I have said elsewhere in an essay or two, in order to inform and educate the masses, not to share my personal self. That is why I write poetry. But my creative, poetic self, that identity, has faded with my youth. Without love, without desire, passion felt and even unrequited, the poetry in me has begun to dissolve and die. Without a spark, there can be no flame. While my poetry may seek to engage readers on the level of a more universal, deeper truth and emotion, my poetry is always, in some fashion, about me. I am my poetry. I am its language. I am the emotion, the passion, the romantic dreaming and desire, the ecstasy, that infuses and fires the language that I write.

Poetry comes from living, from the experiences we have and even witness firsthand. I read too much now not just for my job, but also because of my interest in ideas and in educating the public through my critical essays that I have little time to live, and too little money to enjoy new experiences and travel to different places in which I can explore not just where I am, but myself, and my freedom. City life seems to give freedom to so many, but this is no longer the case with me. And this leads me to the final nail in the coffin of my life as a writer, outside of the chaos and lack of fulfillment in my personal life. City life no longer breeds creativity in me, or the beauty and the joy I once felt at the constant tumult of life being lived and enjoyed by those around me when I am in the midst of it.

And compounding the paralysis, solidifying it even more, aside from the need to keep up on this blog, which seems to defuse the creativity in me as well, is the weight of the world, of the growing strife among the peoples of the earth and the fundamentalist ideologues and dictators of all shades, both domestically and across the globe, in and out of the political arena, that is impossible to escape thanks to the juggernaut of social media, the constant changes in technology, and the original media channels that filter what you see, hear, and read to ensure ratings because it’s all about the money and not actually informing and educating the masses about what is happening behind our backs and behind closed doors that we only discover when it is far too late. I am Atlas; the weight of the ignorance, selfishness, arrogance, greed, and fundamentalism of the masses (and don’t get me started on their lack of taste and class) has caused me to become paralyzed as a writer. For why write when the things I care about, the things I see the truth in, and the values and ideas that fascinate and drive me, go unnoticed by and lack any importance to most of the rest of the world?

The answers may be simple to you, even to me, but there are many factors that disable and put off the power and opportunity to change the situation, at least permanently; for taking some much-needed time off or unplugging from all the technology and media for a while is only a short-lived resolution to the problem. One has to plug back in and return home eventually. Also, the lasting effects of these solutions are also questionable. As for relocating, that is a naturally complicated prospect at this point in time for a variety of reasons. Eventually I will begin meditating, but even in doing so, one must come back up for air and return to the reality that has become such a deadweight on my shoulders that I feel as if no matter what I do, I have been permanently thrown off the path that was set before me as a writer and will never find my way back again.

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