I’m always thinking about writing, but lately, not writing much. I start and stop, start and stop. Stop. And. Stop.
I get into the swing of things – concentrate on not making dumb mistakes at work, which makes me a little sad to see how much brain power it takes. I often wonder how thinly I’m slicing my attention-span, and realize that even when I have down time, my mind is spread over so many things that I can’t even read an entire article in the NY Times without having to blink and ask myself, “Did I absorb any of that?”
I can blame the internet. Twitter. Before, I didn’t understand its draws until I slowly started to follow more and more people, who also give me a complex with how much content they can churn out even there. It’s like, “Oh great. All these other greater, better Tweeters…” I am now suffering writer’s block on the 140-character level.
Hopefully what I believe is true and not just a little lie I tell myself to prevent the one morning and find that my soul’s been crushed (okay, that’s as little dramatic), but I tell myself that I’m collecting stories. One day, everything I see, smell and hear will come pouring out of me in not just one but many great works. In this day and age, I’m not even sure I’m talking about paper and books – perhaps just the next great blog entry, waiting to be circulated, reblogged, retweeted, liked.
A few months ago I reached out to the assistant before me for some question I hope she had the answer to. The question itself wasn’t important – I finally had an excuse to cyber tap her on the shoulder and say, “Hey, why didn’t you stay?”
The answer is obvious, to anyone who’s been in this position, but at the same time I am in this position and I am still here, and willing to stay too, at least for a while.
She replied, “I had a great time there. Your boss is really cool to work for and I made a lot of great friends. The atmosphere was good, but I didn’t want to stay somewhere just because I was “comfortable.”
Her reply was gracious, considering some of her ex-workers were not exactly kind to her legacy, but it made me think. She went on to say that she was actually pursuing her dream career in marketing and that she was looking forward to getting her MBA at UCLA. To her, those were the markers of personal success – finding herself in her chosen field, getting the requisite degree to add another 20-30K to her salary, and hopefully, a few years down the line, the ability to look back and say, “I’ve done what I wanted to do.”
A few years ago, I made a promise to myself: No Regrets. As a writer, this is of paramount importance. Every “mistake,” every “detour” is a story. It was around the time I was enrolling at Berkeley, filled with anxiety for the coming semester, wondering if I could still hack it as a college student at a big university. A masochist, I logged onto Facebook and saw the graduation postings and congratulations of my old roommates at NYU – they had stuck it through and were now best college girlfriends. I examined their bright eyes, their similar outfits and mused about their plans after graduation. I wondered. Had I stayed, would my face have been in those photographs, stuck close to theirs with a giant, triumphant grin? (Probably not, as they were whiter than white, from Texas and Connecticut).
I let my imagination go – I imagined making arrangements for my mom and brother to attend the graduation (my father doesn’t do these things) and picking which restaurants to take them too and filling them in on my recent interviews… what would I have majored in? I could picture all the fun stuff no problem, but the key components I had trouble filling in – it was like watching a movie with poorly developed characters and no plot. I backed away then, realizing I couldn’t imagine a whole other life for myself because I was very solidly and happily (if not somewhat anxiously) planted in the one I was living.
So. No Regrets. I said it out loud and pushed forward.
“The boundaries which divide life from death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?”
-Edgar Allan Poe