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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Giving Too Many Shits, Losing Friends, and Finding Community

I am loathe to admit this, but when I took my first (and only) course specifically on gender, I told my professor that I didn't like the word "feminism" because I felt like fighting for equality should be about equality "for everyone" and "feminism excludes the men".

I know. It's gross. I've come a long way since then and I have admitted that to very few people because it's really embarrassing (although now I've admitted it to the entire Internet, so there's a weight off my chest). By the time I graduated from University, I felt very differently, and I'm glad I eventually experienced a reality check and got my head out of my ass.

I think differently now than I used to. I talk differently. Where I used to engage with the world with a lot of internalized misogyny, I now try to be hyper-aware of what I'm saying and how I'm saying it. I call other people out. I apologize when I catch myself doing something shitty and oppressive. I try to educate my other white, cis, able-bodied friends. I try to use my positions of privilege (white, cis, able-bodied, educated, conventionally attractive) to support people who are oppressed and my positions of oppression (woman, bisexual, poor, depression) to become as visible as possible while fighting for positive change. I try to check any sort of saviour complex and instead try to be a truly supportive ally. I try to teach others how to do the same.

I'm not always good at it. When I fail, I try to apologize and do better the next time. I am constantly trying to be critical and aware and anti-oppressive. It's exhausting to have to constantly check yourself but being able to "take a break" from it is a privilege that oppressed people don't get. People of Colour do not get to take a break from experiencing racism, women don't get to take a break from experiencing sexism, etc. So I try not to take breaks from the stuff I have the privilege to be able to. When I do check out because my depression or other emotional concerns are getting triggered, I try to be as cognizant as possible of the fact that I am doing so.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

I'm a Bad Writer

This is the simple truth: I am a bad writer.

Not in the sense that my writing is bad. When I write, I write well. I know my grammar. I have a good grasp of style and flow. I can spell. I can put ideas together in such a way that you can actually follow what I'm trying to say. My essays tend to be better than my fiction, but my fiction is alright. My poems are probably mediocre, but they're at least on par with poetry I've seen published elsewhere.

So, no, I'm not saying I suck at writing, because when I do it, I do it well.

The problem - the reason I'm a bad writer - is that I don't do it.

I used to write prolifically. When I was a teenager, I churned out fanfiction like it was my job. Flashfic, short stories, one or two lengthy multi-chapter stories. And poetry! And my own short stories! And lyrics! I was constantly writing when I was a teenager.

Then university happened. Then depression happened.

But then I graduated, and the depression got (somewhat) better. And it turned out those were excuses (or at least, university was an excuse. The depression was a legitimate reason to not write). I no longer had papers due and stacks of books to read and a thesis to write. But I still wasn't putting that time towards writing.

Then I got a soul-sucking full-time job at a call center and I still didn't write. I made more excuses about work taking up all my time, and wanting my "free time" to be just that.

Now, to be fair, I was at that job for a year and a half, and for a year of it, I was spending a lot of my free time making a book happen, for which I wrote one essay and then worked with my business partner to edit the rest of them before publishing the collection independently. So it's not like I haven't been doing writerly things, and Being a Grown-Up took a lot of time and money and energy and work, and I don't wish to discredit myself. I do continue to write poetry, but that doesn't take a lot of time, and I can do that in the memo app on my phone when I'm on my lunch break or in bed.

But I have not been one to make time for writing, as much as I want to write. I think about writing all the time. While I'm bicycling to and from work, or laying in bed at night, I roll essays around in my head, I plan out snippets of dialogue, I chart out storylines and figure out where I'd find information for research. I develop arguments and outline papers.

I never write them down. I have lots of excuses for not doing so. I'm tired after work. I need to rehearse my lines for this play I signed up to do. I need to clean my room (hahaha). I should spend time with friends I never see. My desk is a mess and I can't focus. I should, I can't, I won't.

Mostly I watch Bob's Burgers and eat in bed.

I absolutely know that it's as simple as scheduling writing time. Hell, if I scheduled one hour per week of writing time, I'd still be writing more than I write now.

This isn't a call to arms. I'm not going to promise that I am going to write more often, especially now that I'm going back to school in September. I guess this is an attempt at accountability. I'm calling myself out for making excuses. For thinking about something I want to do and not actually doing it. If I let my fear of failure, and my dislike of spending time alone with my own thoughts, stop me from doing this thing that gave me so much freedom and release when I was growing up - the thing I did so much that people were certain I'd go on to "be a writer" - then that's nobody's fault but my own.

Maybe I'll be a better writer in the future. Maybe not. I guess I'll find out. In the meantime, I'm booking an hour of writing time into my Google calendar this week.