There is a quote attributed to Kurt Vonnegut which says, “[w]ho is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?” Coming up with something to say – the ultimate trick.
Depending on the day, my mind wonders from issue to issue, historical moment to historical moment, cultural problem to cultural problem. So far this morning, in the two hours I have been awake, my mind has wondered from COVID to the MLB to the NFL to plate tectonics to laundry to Literature studies to YouTube to social media in general to David Sedaris to this: a meandering ADHD style blog post that is currently taking up space on a digital page.
Over the years, I have tried to force myself to write each morning. I am now on day four of my most recent endeavor to try this, and for the first time ever, when I ran into the issue of not being able to land on a single topic, I did not stop. And here we are – meandering.
I’m getting burnt on the front page of the Post. Not because I’m burnt on news, but because the headlines are the same every morning: Trump screwed the pooch on COVID. People are dying. Everyone is bored. Joe Biden is ___________ (fill in the blank). A picture of Nancy Pelosi in a mask beside a picture of Mitch McConnel without a mask. A graph that updates every 60 seconds.
Recently I have turned more to YouTube than I have before. To say that a new tidal wave of content has hit the social media platform is an understatement. Which is cool – creativity is enjoying a mini-renaissance. But most of what I have found myself doing is following rabbit holes into weird – alternative theories (NOT conspiracy theories) that present different points of views of established knowledge. I have also reveled in the two to three-hour long interviews across different podcasts and shows like Joe Rogan, Rich Eisen, Dak Shepard, and Whitney Cummings. I’ve been watching documentaries on the NFL and MLB, 30 for 30 films, “The Last Dance,” Friends, The Nanny, and Nova.
What bothers me is that my default explanation of this is that the pandemic has caused this rut. But has it? If there were no pandemic, and there were no stay-at-home order, I would still be sitting in this chair, still staring at this screen, still whining. There is a reason I have struggled to create a meaningful schedule of writing in the past when there was not a pandemic: patience. Patience with your own brain is hard to manage. When I have a creative urge, and I am stymied in expressing that urge through music, writing, drawing, etc., I get angry. I get anxious. I get mean. Understanding that creativity and art are the product of patience is an epiphany waiting to happen. And it only happens when the artist forces themselves into an uncomfortable position that they have avoided before.
I think I am there. I’m in the backseat of a Volkswagen.