I'm not sure why I'm writing this, too late at night on far too little sleep. I've been avoiding posting for some time now, for...various reasons. Hell, not even rl ones.
Part of it is this: I haven't written a single original word in months.
Oh, I have some stories in my head, and I can write them down on a page even, in ways that I never have before, but they're all stories I've known for a long while now, and for one reason or another, haven't written down. Yet as soon as I reach the boundary of that story, the end of what I know about it, I can't go on anymore. I'm not tired of it, I even want to know what happens next.
But I've forgotten how to find out.
Perhaps ironically, since I've lost that I've been able to phrase my own thoughts, my own feelings in words that make me blink in surprise to look back on; turns of phrase that I look at in shock later, wondering how I pinned a concept in so few words, simultaneously understandable, and yet more poetic than I've ever quite reached before.
"...where you miss them so much your jigsaw-puzzle heart skips a beat or two...",
I've known, more or less, that I can turn a phrase, even pretty well. Perhaps the most telling indication is that some of the obligatory confused-kid middle-school poetry I wrote rather a lot of isn't only salvageable, but somehow, sometimes, even worth saving.
But those streets in my head where I used to walk, where I used to be bombarded with original character after original character, all shouting over one another to tell their stories, have fallen silent. Even my dreams-usually reliable, if cracky, sources of inspiration-have gradually phased into either a: Doctor Who fanfiction, or b: outright disturbing semi-realistic dreams I can only half-remember, but are much more unsettling for that half-memory.
The first is fun, but unhelpful in writing stories. The second is terrifying.
I remember sitting bolt upright and scrambling for a pen, babbling in half-coherent sentences to whatever unfortunate soul happened to be around, on fire with a new story waiting to be told. There's still very little that can compare to that rush, where my semi-illegible babblings coalesce into a coherent story and I see my audience's eyes light up in response to that story, and all I want to do is write until the fire burns itself out.
It's not comfortable, exactly, but it's something I live for.
But I haven't felt it for months.
I had a tiny spark about two months ago, a mere ghost of what usually happens, and it was only grabbing two tropes I'm familiar with and linking them. I don't believe it's been done before, and it's a lot of fun in its own way, and has its own twists and turns, but...I can't shake the feeling that it's not what's supposed to happen to me. And besides, I have a cowriter, and while I've chatted plot and themes and characters with him, I have yet to contribute a single damned word.
It's like I can't make art anymore. And it scares me.
Objectively this probably isn't true. I have played the piano, after all, and that's music, but...it's been performance only, technical playing, nothing special; so I can read sheet music like I read English. Big whoop. I've been playing since I was six. It's all practice.
I haven't dared touch my harp. I've never been that good with it but when I'm playing my own, she's sweet enough to compensate for me, even when I'm slowly picking my way through a piece I've only heard.
I'm terrified that if I sit down at her, and try to play something, it won't work, and it'll only be strings vibrating at a certain frequency. Or-and I know this is horribly superstitious but I can't help it-that her strings will snap beneath my fingers if I even try.
That the silence of what used to be the stories in my head will turn into silence on my harp, and slowly infect everything else until I no longer have anything to say.
Right now, I can still describe what's in my own head, at least. My words haven't deserted me in that respect.
But I'm starting to feel like Echo. That the only stories I know how to tell anymore are ones that I've already told, or aren't even mine.