I Hardly Ever Write Anymore

I thought I’d find the time to pick up a pen or, more realistically, the folding plastic keyboard I got off Amazon for my iPad since the Magic Keyboard costs too much—

But, no, the time to write was never found. Or perhaps I simply ignored it when it did arrive at my doorstep. Maybe it rang the bell but got ignored like an NHK fee collector.

すみません。日本語喋られません, I say. I don’t speak Japanese: a half truth.

When I do try, a blank page stares at me with its unseen eyes, intense and intimidating. So does an audience that exists merely in my head, criticizing each poor lexical choice I make, picking apart my sentences and finding nothing worthy of note.

Writing used to be my solace and my pride, only to realize later on that this pride was rooted not in ingenuity but in ignorance. Where do you go when the very place you ran to for comfort has transformed into the source of your shame?

You can hide behind new names, but you can’t hide from yourself.

Is there anything more impossible a task than having to silence the voices in your own head whose incessant chatter only consists of your frailties and failures?

And yet I hear my own voice mouthing words of encouragement to the children I hope to convince into loving the art of the written word, a few of them reminding me of my own youth, of how thrilling it was to discover, at age ten, that I could fabricate a world where I was god, that I could paint a picture in somebody else’s imagination with words alone.

Words that—when strung together like pristine pearls—could sound like a song that could move one to tears.

But for years, I could not sing. I hardly ever write anymore.

Not even when my mind is restless, or when emotions are high. Instead I turn to screens, to sweets, to shopping carts. Anything that is easier than having to stare down my own insecurity.

But this morning, I thought I’d tell myself the very words I often find myself telling my students these days: I want you to try. Perhaps all life is, is trying.