Love this. I don’t think the question “Why write?” is ever satisfactorily answered, but it’s always worth asking. And your thoughts are always worth reading.

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I love this, Leah. You are helping. Happy everything to you this year, and the next, and the next, and the next....

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I’m sitting here on my couch watching the wisps of steam rise from my tea, having just put down Melissa Febos’s ‘Body Work.’ My head is filled with a multitude of distracting thoughts—why do my front teeth feel brittle this morning? I have to pee again...do I have prostate cancer, or did I just have too much tea? Why can’t I get TLC’s ‘Creep’ dislodged from my brain? Isn’t that a sign of an aneurysm?—and I keep coming back to Taffy’s line: “At its heart, writer’s block is the act of thinking about writing instead of doing it.”

I have always thought of myself as a writer. I know in my heart that I am, or perhaps its merely that I know that I’m not anything else. I’m fast approaching 40 and my skill set feels vanishingly small, so I’m either a writer or hiker, and I have no clue how to get paid for the latter. (Or the former!) But it’s the act of sitting down and doing the work, of fighting my brain that has been decimated by years of working online, of persistent notifications and constant email-checking and knowing that my messages are just right there on my Apple Watch and what if I miss the call informing me of my dad’s death or what if I’m alone forever because I live in a rural area and refuse to use dating apps... I’m exhausted of fighting my own neurology. It’s this internal battle that interests me most, how other writers approach, conquer, negotiate with, ignore these distractions that prevent them from just...doing it.

I’m weary from the battle for my attention. It’s a battle we wage in our private moments, wresting it away from millions of hungry companies and beautiful influencers and vainglorious creatives. Many days, I feel completely exhausted and powerless, an addict who knows he’s addicted, but paralyzed and unable to change. Many days, the desire to create beauty from darkness is overtaken by an almighty “who gives a fuck?” or “isn’t all of this inevitable anyway?”

Allow me to answer the question: why write? I write to be understood, to find connection, to feel less alone. I write in hopes that I’ll squash that niggling fear that no one gives a fuck, that all of this is inevitable. I do not write for publication, I don’t write for attention, I don’t feel comfortable with performative trauma. Perhaps that’s why I’m allergic to so much that’s offered in an MFA, including friendship with my own cohort. An MFA is like a gym: it is unavoidably performative. I’ve always done my best work alone in the woods, away from any possibility of being watched. Real honesty requires absolute solitude, divorced from any possibility that I’m writing for an audience, for validation, for attention. Perhaps some of this is growing up gay in rural America: so much of my adolescence was internal, worried about being noticed by people who wished me harm, but desperate for attention from those I wanted to notice me. I changed the way I carried myself, changed the way I walked and dressed and spoke and thought...

There’s an extractive element to writing, too. An abiding need to discover some elemental truths, to mine some components of this paradox we call consciousness and, I don’t know... bask in their glow? Fit those pieces into the puzzle? Feel some measure of satisfaction? Ultimately, I’ll never slap some punctuation at the end of a sentence and feel any semblance of finality or completion, which is absolutely fucking maddening. Writing is a(n endless) process, one of revision and edits and self-doubt and pride. I wonder if the knowledge that the process is both futile and incredibly worthwhile adds to my strange relationship with it.

Why write. I write in great parabolic arcs, speeding away from then fast approaching Truth. It’s the moments when I’m closest to the it/not•it (my name for Truth) that I feel the most alive. I live for those moments of transcendence.

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Your work always moves me deeply, I look forward to what comes next. Best of luck to you.

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