Fast-forward even more to college and I had mostly quit all of these things–no more acting, a brief stint with voice lessons that quickly became too expensive, and eventually the flute and writing faded, too. I started off as a flute major, but bouts of depression, a negative experience with an eccentric flute teacher, and the grind of three hours of daily practice made me switch to English. I loved creative writing as I always had– for a while: i.e., when I had a good teacher and, to be honest, when I felt like one of the better writers in the class. But once again, depression struck, and by junior year, repeated panic attacks in combination with a cliquey writing seminar effectively ended all of my creative or writing endeavors.
It wasn’t that the writing had felt so bad while I was doing it during that seminar. It was tough, but I could still lose myself in it. It was after the seminar ended and I re-read my work that I came away astonished and shame-faced. How could I have produced such absolute and utter shit–and been excited about it? All this time I thought I was creating characters and I was only, pathetically, reproducing my own misery, writing myself over and over. How could I trust my own sensibilities moving forward? I concluded I actually sucked at writing and obstinately refused to write for three years.
Here and there I produced a poem I liked, and here and there I started a new personal essay. But I never finished anything. I began picking up my flute from time to time, for the pleasure of it, but I knew I had lost all my finesse and music theory and history and most of my skill. I sang in the shower. I read and re-read the letters my on-stage boyfriends had written me.
So here we are. I’ve finally gotten over the pain of that (false) realization about my writing ability and accepted that I don’t suck, although I do need training and practice. The other creative forms I’ve also accepted as occasional pleasures, but not things at which I desire to excel.
The only thing I’m creating right now is this blog and my journal, and I have to say it feels so nice to be writing anything at all. Today I was pondering the pain of break-ups and I started writing in my head. “The unique pain of a breakup gets effaced in the universality of its difficulty. Breakups are hard. The particulars don’t matter. Everyone feels it, all the kinds of pain at once, sharp as a knife’s wound and dull as a bruise and snapping as a broken bone. In other words, you’re not special.”
That’s not too terrible, right? It’s been a while since I started thinking like that, writing naturally about the things I observe