[This is going to be about post-election feelings. This blog felt like the only place I could really lay them out. You’ve been warned.]
I haven’t written a word of fiction since Tuesday.
No, scratch that. I’ve written about two sentences of revision on a story I sold on Tuesday, news which I was really excited to share with everyone until the world seemed to spiral out of control. But everything else creative has been dried up, covered in a pile of anxiety and sleepless nights and grief.
You’re probably going to say (or, my traitor brain is trying to convince me that you’re going to say): what’s the big deal? So the mediocre writer who can’t sell most of her work anyway and who no one really reads when she is published hasn’t written for all of five days? So fucking what?
Well, it doesn’t really matter to anyone outside of me in the end. It’s just that I’ve always written.
I wrote before I quite knew all of my letters (I would dictate stories to my mom, and have her write them down for me, and then I’d draw the pictures). When things got confusing, or scary, or I just didn’t want to deal with the world, my imagination was the safe place I went to. The only times I stopped writing for any extended period of time just happen to be the darkest, the hardest, the emptiest.
When it comes down to it, everything I’ve written in my life has been an attempt to understand people, because as a whole they’ve never made all that much sense to me. And I think on Tuesday I came to a realization that I will never understand people, and that really, if they’re all like this, I don’t want to.
I had been writing, pushing through all the anxiety election season was causing me. I was working out notes for a pulp series I was going to attempt, about a ghost hunter/night librarian. I was plucking away through NaNo, happy enough though I was far behind the wordcount goal. I had a couple of short stories I was trying to shape into something salable.
Maybe I’ll get them back.
Maybe I won’t.
Maybe I’ll have to learn to be okay with that.
There’s been sort of a call to arms, or maybe many calls to arms, amongst the writers I orbit on social media, particularly those from marginalized groups. We’re going to need art if we’re going to make it through the next four–or however many–years. We’re going to need stories that protest and stories that bring peace.
Part of the problem is that I don’t know if I have those stories in me. Part of the problem is that, even if I did, I don’t know if I deserve to tell them.
This was something I was grappling with before Tuesday. Even though I write in order to see through other eyes, in the end I can only be who I am, and who I am is a white, cisgender, raised-in-the-suburbs, middle-class female person. And no matter how representational I tried to make my fiction in terms of race, sex, religion, gender, or class, doe any of that matter if I am the messenger? If I get things wrong by mistake, does it make things worse for people? Are my stories worth telling, and are they worth hearing?
These are things I’ve been trying to work through. Now there’s just a much bigger layer of doubt to dig past.
I lost a lot of my youthful political idealism a long time ago. Now, with the election of a man I will not name to the most powerful position on earth, I have lost most of my hope. I don’t want to give him that power. I want to fight back. I want to tell whatever story I have it in me to tell, whether or not its good enough.
But I’m not there yet.
For now, I take sleeping pills. I try to remember to eat, though I haven’t been hungry in five days. I go to work.
I’m trying to give myself space to be. And I hope that soon space to be will mean stories to write after all.