If I have any talent as a writer, most of the time I waste it. Most of the time I exist passively, reactively. If I write, I rarely get lost in the act, and on the occasion that I do get lost in it, get carried away with the process of selecting and layering words and sentences, it is usually about something meaningless, if you inspect it in the grand scheme of things.
Why is this? I think I really enjoy writing, and I think I understand the power of such an art form. Written words resound long after they are written, long after they are read. I realize this, so why can’t I discipline myself–first to write with regularity, and second to write something of importance? I’ve been sitting on a draft about Darfur for the past couple of weeks and I can’t bring myself to finish it. Why? Isn’t the issue of genocide a bit more consequential than the story of how I lost my favorite sweatshirt? But if I only write about Darfur two times a year, doesn’t that make me the worst kind of hypocritical “activist?” And if I write about it every day doesn’t that simultaneously give me the airs of self righteousness and send me into guilt-wracked depression? Not to mention won’t all of you stop reading this, maybe? What am I supposed to do when the most urgent matters facing us are so unpopular and so unpleasant? And why do I have to use so many questions when I write about my personal issues of conscience and writing? Why can’t I just feel good about what I am doing?
Part of me feels like I either have to do it or not do it. Either I devote every page of this blog to things that I find truly pressing–things like social justice and God and creative responsibility (wasn’t that the initial point of this new blog, after all?), either I do that, or I throw it all out and write about television and bizarre dreams and what I ate for lunch that day. Either it is everything or nothing, because that is just the way I think, I have never been good with the middle ground, not in anything.
But part of me knows the danger of committing to something greater than I can handle. I can be roused to passion about a cause, but I don’t know if I can maintain that passion daily, which might make me a crummy human being but does it make me a crummy writer, to admit that shortcoming? I would consider this something of an internal crisis, and I would gladly hear any kind of advice or suggestions you have on the matter.
What is my obligation as a person who thinks and a person who writes? Can I get away with writing for fun, or is that completely irresponsible? And if so, is there a balance, and if so, how do I find it?