I Only Write When I’m Sad

8 Nov

There’s something about the words, about typing something out and clicking “publish” and letting it go into the world – something about it that makes me feel like what I have to say might matter, maybe to someone other than me.

I wrote in my diary every day from ages 7-18. Every day. I still have one, but now I only write when I’m sad. It’s mostly about boys. Pages upon pages over the last three years of overanalyzed text messages and invented futures with men I barely knew. If I die tomorrow, someone will read my journal and presume I cared about nothing else.

That’s not true, of course. I just only write when I’m sad.

I used to have a folder on my desktop, called “Homework”. Inside, there was another, “Spanish”. Inside, yet another, “Book Spring 2009”. That’s where I kept all my writings I didn’t want anyone to find. I’d rant about my body, my grades, my fears for the future, my friends – mean stuff, always far meaner about myself than about anyone I was angry with. Words have always been a way to let go, and yet I never trashed those documents. I saved every single one, by date, and I’d reread them. For some reason I couldn’t stop bringing myself back to those moments of rejection and self-loathing.

The writing was never any good. It was emotional and thoughtless – necessary, but not the sort of thing you want anyone else to read. Just a dump of feelings.

I read about Marina Keegan. She died, at 22, but she left behind this amazing trove of writings from her college years. About all those same feelings – the world moving too fast, choices, fear, growing up, friendship, loss – and yet hers is good. She had a play produced. She wrote for the New Yorker. And she died.

Here I am, alive, and what am I doing? I have a good job, the kind of job you get when you work hard in high school and college and take on leadership roles and fill up your resume with work experience in your field. But I always thought there would be something more. I want to change something. I want to help people. I want to be impressive. I want to write a book.

But I only write when I’m sad.

It’s November. It’s Sunday. It’s raining and I have a cozy apartment with plenty of tea and Netflix and popcorn and books and a whole day to myself. I’ve done yoga and drank coffee and read for hours and went for a walk in the rain. This is the stuff of a thousand Instagram posts.

But my phone is broken. And I’m lonely. And my sink is clogged and everything is a mess and I can’t, just can’t, find the energy to fix any of it when I know it’ll all just fall apart again.

And I haven’t outgrown those fears – of being a burden on my friends, that I’ll never achieve any of the things I dream of, that I’ll be alone forever.

So I write, because I’m sad.

But I don’t write the article that’s due next week, or the book I’ve been telling people I’m working on for ages. I write a blog post, because when I hit publish I know that someone out there will read this, and maybe they’ll nod, and just knowing that – that for a moment someone out there will know that I exist and think about what I have to say, even when it’s not much – that helps.

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3 Responses to “I Only Write When I’m Sad”

  1. autumnkovachak November 9, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

    Hey Girl –
    I’m so sorry you’re feeling down. It’s all going to be ok! I know there are crappy days but I promise it’ll be worth it. Embracing the process of your life and fighting for the things you want are what’s important. It is all about the journey. Hang in there. I promise, there is purpose for your life!
    -AK

  2. Glenna November 9, 2015 at 6:45 am #

    OK, I just got up and am not caffeinated, so this will be me talking with no makeup on my words. Mixed metaphor, but you know…I work on my novel every day, have been rejected by agents for several years, and still think it’s something I have to do. You write just to write, for the exercise of writing, and because you sneak messages to yourself when you do. So keep writing and keep reading your writing and try to quit judging yourself. And keep searching. It’s a very human condition, now that we don’t have to hunt or weave our own cloth or go to the convent because we have no other choices. We love you and would love to see you…

    • Stacking Twenties November 9, 2015 at 11:50 am #

      Thanks 🙂 It was, of course, just one of those days and I am now rested and much better.

      I didn’t know that you had written a novel! I hope I get to read it someday!

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