A little (blue) bird did not tell me
Sometimes, I disappear
My disappearences aren’t planned. In my head, I’ll be reliable: I’ll publish a blog post every week. Somehow, somehow, that’s going to lead to me becoming a proper writer — you know, someone who does it for a living, not in the slices of time I do it in. But I am patently and demonstrably not reliable, save in my unreliability.
I haven’t touched Twitter, or any social media (not that I ever really accessed any other platforms, other than the occasional brush with Instagram). Twitter was — is, I think — the place where my readers live; though scant in number, they are large in heart. But I got to a point at which I could not even bring myself to open the app. No matter what, the first scroll unspooled misery on digital misery, every fine pixel a cry, like Blake’s ‘London’ gone cyber. I blocked, I muted; it was not enough. The misery and the hate became unbearable. And it wasn’t just that. It was the looping. The miseries were finite, but their potential wasn’t. So the same arguments, the same debates, the same ad hominems (and, naturally, the same accus
ations of ad hominem), the same self-righteousness, the same fear, the same red raw writhing humanity. It felt like a videogame I was being forced to play; the people weren’t really people but avatar-selves, ciphers, reduced to soundbites and sloganeering.
And the people —most of them — were teachers. Teachers like me.
I am a member of a very angry profession.
I am not saying the anger isn’t justified. What I am saying is that I could not carve out a space for myself on Twitter in which I felt happy. So, eventually, I stopped trying.
So: no Twitter. But I still felt the gust from its invisible gavel. So much certainty, and I’m not certain of much at all. I couldn’t go back. The reason was that I could not be around those who seemed so sure of themselves, who seemed to have everything figured out. I wondered how they had the time to become such experts, what with all the tweeting. I felt more and more that I could not write, because I would be told I was wrong. This is nobody’s fault but my own; all of these constructions happened and happen inside my own skull.
I wrote, though. Possibly more than ever. I started keeping paper notebooks again. I write every single day. I have so many things I’m excited about. But I have published none of it.
It had to be perfect. If I were to put something out there, it had to be perfect. I had to have done the work. I could not post something half-baked. Every time I set out to write something I was confronted with the insurmountability of what I did not know. It was paralysing. I do not want sympathy and this is not hyperbole. It simply is. Please do not think that the paralysis was awful. It wasn’t. It was just there.
I realise, now, as I read back what I have written, how sad I seem. How negative it all is. Perhaps. But I am not sad. I have been depressed before (though depression and sadness, I maintain, have little to do with each other; I might well write about this in the future) but I am not now. Having been diagnosed with ADHD a few months ago and having since started medication, I’m happier, holistically, than I’ve been for a long time. Perhaps I will write about my experiences with the medication (18mg Xaggitin, currently; it’s early days). But the writing — publically writing, or else one is simply journalling — has been missing. I have felt it. So this post is a little lighter-flame jumping in the dark, to remind (mostly) myself that I can do this, because it is what I want to do.
I have weighted a lot of blame Twitter’s way. My stasis is not purely because of that. I’ve created a lot of my own writing problems, which I’m pretty sure I’ll post about soon, mostly because I think I’ve found some solutions, and perhaps some struggling writer might find them useful. To return to Twitter, though, and by way of signing off, I shall quote R S Thomas:
Don't think it was all hate That grew there; love grew there, too, Climbing by small tendrils where The warmth fell from the eyes' blue
Flame. Don't think even the dirt And the brute ugliness reigned Unchallenged. Among the fields Sometimes the spirit, enchained
So long by the gross flesh, raised Suddenly there its wild note of praise.