Running In Circles

I get really anxious when I don’t write. It’s almost a physical thing, one that puts me on edge and tunes me right up to cranky, and there’s a cobra tied around my gut that I’m most aware of when it finally goes away, when I finally bang out something that I like, that I’d want to read, and then I’m back to square one.


It’s one of the reasons–the best one–why I’ve written so many fics in the past year and a half: I can’t not write, and it’s easier for me to retreat into Sam and Dean’s world, or Misha and Jen’s, or Kirk and Spock’s, than to hang too close in my own.

It’s an escape, they tell me. A means of getting away. Of not-being for awhile, as my beloved Gorgias might say.

When I can’t write, or won’t, I turn that same energy to self-sabotage.

What do you do in your spare time? he says. When you’re not in school.

I write, I say. Or try.

I’m thinking too much about it, this habit, this pipe, when what I should do is just write. Words on the keys, in the page, and be done.

But, like the man says:

Part of it, this anxiety, lies in where I am in my not-school work: I’m in the midst of two long pieces–very unlike me, mind–two pieces I’ve been fighting with on and on for freaking months when I’m more wont to just knocking those bastards out. Not always, you see. Not all. But often.

So I lie in the goddamn middle of the road to Damascus or 19th-century Wyoming or millennial Pittsburgh PA and it’s frustrating, hanging alone out there, like that. I want them done, want to get the boys to their fucking happily-ever-afters already, but even in this state of me-imposed despair, I know they’ll both be better for the extra time taken but crap, I’ve hung myself out to dry.

Self-sabotage, yes, in academic world, too. I have two essays that need revised–ok, three if you count that conference paper for PCA–and I can’t get out of my own way enough to get them done.

I want to write them, I guess, which is why I tell myself I must not.

I never said I made sense, dude.

I am my own worst enemy, yes. Never truer words spoken than this.

All academics, they tell us, Paul does, they have this internal critic, this voice that tells them they don’t belong. The imposter syndrome, they call it, hushed tones and sad eyes and soft shake of the head, yay. It gets all of us. But especially the women. Dominant discourse’s gift to we without the Y chromosome: doubt and self-inflicted fury.

So I am an impostor. I feel one, that is. And in the seeming vs. being song, that’s the only verse that matters, yes?

I suppose what’s surprised me lately is that I feel an imposter in all things, not just in academe. A big blank slate onto which people who damn well know better keep pressing these images of competency, of cleverness, of fleeting rhetorical skill.

Insert teenage-girl tumblr angst here: unloved sigh, sad poetry sniff, bad gifs of cute kittens. Bah.

Hollow hollow man, am I of late. Here’s to hope the road so gets a little less far.

2 thoughts on “Running In Circles

  1. I get really anxious when I try to write- for many of the same reasons the reverse is true for you (I think). I can speak and present all the live long day, but try and pin me down with the written word and I am overwhelmed with the fear that they will figure out I’m a total fraud- that I don’t really know what I’m doing (classic imposter syndrome). Let me give you this bit though: as I was reading this post I was stuck by the thought that the people I have run across that didn’t have doubts were arrogant and rigid in their surity. I’d rather struggle with doubt than be so sure I was correct that it closed me off to other views. We can never perceive the whole truth of anything (if it even exists…), we can only give our best guess and be ever willing to revise as new information presents itself. Thanks for taking my brain someplace it needed to go.

    1. I like your point about the dangerous of certainty; as Nathan Fillon put it on Twitter this morning, “Anyone who doesn’t think they have anything to learn will never get any better. And they are an asshole.” I think that “willingness to revise,” as you neatly dub it, is what distinguishes the most thoughtful writers (scholarly or no). Writing is an act of ego, I think, which demands a certain asshole-ishness, at some level. But it’s also an act of learning, of reflecting on one’s own words and thoughts and adjusting accordingly. The boundaries, they’re always shifting.

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