By Eric

A writer pretends to know everything, knows they know nothing, and hopes the reader doesn’t catch onto their trick. I know I know nothing, and that’s why I write.

Being that I am a writer in the loosest sense of the word, I’m not going to claim some insight into the writing process. I’m certainly no visionary of prose. All I know is that when I sit down to write something real, something meaningful to me, writing the first sentence is the hardest part.

The first sentence is too easily chased from your mind like last dewy breaths of summer, leaving you with nothing but yourself and hollow thoughts.

Somewhat ironically, hollow thoughts eventually lead to questions. Which lead to answers. Which lead to more questions. Which lead to words. Which lead to sentences. Which leads me to where I am right now.

As I sit analyzing myself and my lack of any meaningful thoughts to put on the page, I began to question why I would ever want to put myself through such a practice. I’ve never made money writing. I’ve never written anything that stands out on a scope beyond a few wandering compliments. I’ve really never gotten anything out of writing.

But that’s not why I write. I write for me. Selfishly. It’s the only way to think, when you’re collecting your thoughts for the page, because I can assure you, most things that are written are hardly read, and those that are, become cast aside and forgotten within seconds. I know this, and yet I put myself through the wholly torturous process. Even the most inconsequential blog post on the most mundane topic can be the hardest thing you do all day. Or all week. Or all month.

Writing is the ultimate practice in alienation and solitude. It isolates you from your surroundings, and sucks you into yourself. You can pour yourself for hours into something that you put everything you have into; knowing from the start that it probably won’t leave a mark on anyone. Why, after all, would anybody possibly care? They’ll never know how much you put into what you write. And even if they realize how much time it consumed, or how much you stressed over a few hundred words, they’ll never really be able to understand. They can’t. Writing lacks equity. The writer writes, the reader reads, and neither ever really understands the other. Each party is left with only thing they had from the start: their own thoughts, feelings, and ideas. The two sides met for a moment, and may have left an impression on one another, but each is ultimately left only with themselves.

The reason I torture myself so much with words should become abundantly clear to anyone who knows me. The process explains me completely. The solitude. The alienation. The selfishness.

I spend the majority of my time spewing flippant sarcasm or cracking wise. I can make people laugh and I know this. I can be witty and fun. I’m completely aware of this. In most social settings I’ll play off the group with a few jokes or bad puns. People laugh. It’s fun. And it’s real. It’s certainly the real me, and I enjoy it as much as others seem to.

But at the same time, I know there is another side to how I think. The side that makes me write. The side that alienates and pushes people away. The side that keeps me in solitude.

I open up to no one. At no point in my life have I felt legitimately close to another person. Most of my friends would, without fail, call me generally apathetic. I’m stoic. I’m constantly at an arm’s length. Frankly, I could sit in a room with my friends for hours and literally not say a word without anyone batting an eyelash.

If I’m not making a joke, or feeling in the laughing mood, odds are I’m not going to be the best company.

My complete inability to connect with people is why I write. Why I was drawn to the idea of writing from the beginning. I spend most of my time before, during and after I write wondering why anyone would possibly care what I have to say. It’s the same question I ask before I write anything. I find myself boring. Uninteresting. Devoid of substance. In person, I feel even more boring. More uninteresting. More devoid of substance. And worst of all, more mumbly.

Writing allows me to collect my boring thoughts and put them into a form of expression. When I write, it’s just me at a keyboard. Nobody else is around, so nobody else knows. I’m hiding in plain sight. Words on a page don’t lie.

When you’re writing you can open up to the page without worrying if it will reciprocate. You won’t get hurt. You won’t get laughed at. The page accepts what you say without giving back. You speak your mind and don’t have to worry whether the other side feels the same, or is willing to give back the amount of passion you put in. Writing is the emotional coward’s way out.

Before I began typing this, the only thing that lay before me was a blank page and a blinking cursor. As I finish, all that lies in my wake is bunch of words. Aesthetically, the difference is minimal – black and white versus simply white. But as a form of expression, the difference between a blank page and a full page is impossible to describe.

I know I’ll never write something of particular merit, because merit is all relative. But I know I’ll continue to write. Maybe someday I’ll be able to look another person in the eye and tell them how I feel. Maybe I’ll be able to interact one-on-one in complete comfort. I hope so. Otherwise I’ll be left only with the solitude of writing, and I can’t possibly imagine a less comforting comfort.