What I Need to Do to Write the Story
I’m not at home. I’m writing a story. The prose I am currently writing is leaden. It’s been a couple days since I’ve touched it. I am afraid to take risks, I am unwilling to re-enter the story. I am afraid to re-enter the story? I have something else on my mind right now. What do I have on my mind? I don’t know, because I haven’t stopped to discover what it could be.
I interacted with someone here. The face of the person I interacted with terrified me. I don’t know if it was the face itself or the fact that I had something to say to them. I felt incorporated or involved in something that I didn’t understand. I’m something I don’t understand. I looked away while I was speaking to them. I do it all the time. When I look away, I’m being dissmissive, I’m asserting my dominance over the person I am speaking to, demonstrating my displeasure, undermining my ability to have a conversation. It is easier, I guess, to pretend not to have anything to say to someone or to pretend not to have a responsibility to them than it is to speak to them.
What I’m worried about is a very minor thing.
The last time I had an interaction with that particular person it was something approximating a conversation. I had something to say, to introduce, in the name of generousness, in the name of carnival, in the name of pageantry. It was absolutely not a conversation. But it was an attempt, at something generous, without any expectations aside from purely social ones. But even so, I didn’t fully introduce myself into the situation, I kept at a remove, I remained coiled like a snake or a spring, ready to disappear. What would it mean to not be like that, to integrate or allow the possibility of integration?
To ask questions about people, to ask questions that reassure them that I know they have a past, that they are individuals, that in that respect I believe we are equals, that there are boundaries between us that to respectfully probe would mean that I am not making presumptions about them.
Where am I? I don’t know where I am. A child is crying. The same radio station as always is playing. The same songs. The font I chose for this document is extremely small. I guess I feel like hiding, like I’m guilty or ashamed for writing this. Because it’s vaguely critical or vaguely revealing? My head hurts and I’m imagining nothing. A child is choking. Choking to death? No, hardly. He just threw up on the floor.
I smell coffee. I’m in a fucking coffee shop. I have no intentions. I don’t want to have intentions. I don’t feel the desire to have intentions. Any intentions at all. Intentions? Perhaps I mean responsibilities. Perhaps my anxiety is so strong I feel like to meet other people I have to be intentional. Or just to navigate a world with other people in it. It’s insane to write that. Anyway, it means I’m withdrawn.
This morning I thought I should look up “how to remove yourself from the desire to be validated”. That seems to be the opposite of what I’m feeling now. To look at the world in the way that I feel now—vaguely disdainful, vaguely removed—is the opposite of feeling like you want to remove yourself from validation because the desire to remove yourself from validation (as I felt it this morning) is the desire to be generous in your interactions with other human beings. To not need validation in order to proceed with them.
The issue that I have been avoiding all day is this: I’m worried that, as my life is currently constructed, I won’t be able to give up the desire for validation. To live like that is to live like a child. Children ask for approval. Adults do what needs to be done. I have lived like an adult. But I’m not an adult now, except biologically. I’m waiting for something, from someone, from anyone, and I am filled with disgust at myself for waiting for it and not pressing forward in a direction which would mean I was leaving my childhood behind me.
The story cannot proceed while I feel this way. Or, rather, the story can proceed, but I let it die. Rather than attending to the story I look for approval: approval of the story, approval of anything. In order to preserve the story, as it’s growing, I need to make absolutely sure that it isn’t neglected, that I don’t privilege other forms of validation. That I make the time for it regardless of my circumstances. That’s the only way to see it through to the end.