March 7th, 2016

at sea

Why don't I write?

For years I've struggled with writing fiction--not on the level of constructing sentences, or even with what's called "writer's block", where you just can't figure out what to write next. That happens from time to time, but never to the point of it being a problem. Almost all of my stories have endings planned, and I know roughly the paths to get to those endings. It might take several drafts to get those paths cleared out enough for me to follow them, but they're there. And I've always loved crafting sentences, the art of fine-tuning word-selection for nuances or cadence. That part is usually highly enjoyable; the process itself of writing is absolutely not the problem.

The issue is that at some point I stopped writing for me and started writing for other people. Granted, this has sometimes led to me completing stories that would have languished otherwise--at least in part. When I was still in college and then fairly recently out, I had the habit of writing, and I had a highly enthusiastic fandom where a fair number of people were interested in and talkative about what I was writing. And it was fabulous. For a while.

But then I started losing interest in that fandom, both because I fell out of love with the show itself and because fandom's tastes increasingly diverged from mine. Aside from a handful of writers, who also began drifting away, fandom became obsessed with a single non-canonical relationship, to the point where it seemed no one cared about any other characters or potential relationships--and because those were the things I was writing, my stories received less and less of a response, to the point where two comments seemed like overwhelming bounty. And eventually I looked at all these half-finished stories I had sitting around and wondered why bother? If no one else cares about them, why should I?

Aside from a few blips where people have asked me to write particular things--and which they then haven't always responded to, let alone other people--that's the state I've been in for years now. Not being able to make myself care about writing because it seems no one else does either--it's really an awful lot like being in the Doldrums from The Phantom Tollbooth. I hate it. And I hate myself because of it. Every Sunday morning when I survey the past week, I have this sense of failure because I didn't write anything. And I know that I almost certainly won't write anything in the week ahead, because that's how it's been going now for years, so I start the week with a preemptive sense of futility.

This isn't a plea for more comments--that would be nice, but it wouldn't change the fundamental issue, which is: if I don't think what I'm writing is interesting enough to finish, why should anyone else? If I don't care enough about these characters to spend extended amounts of time with them, why should I expect any reader to, let alone comment about doing so? If I don't love the little worlds that I'm trying to make, why bother making them?

And if I love them, what does it matter whether anyone else does?