When the wellspring in my mind runs dry, and I've said all I think I need to say, I'm going to go back through this and move the words and sentences and paragraphs around until I think it makes sense to people besides myself, and I'm going to format everything, and press that little "submit" button with a sort of panicked apprehension so potent it's prevented me dozens of times from even embarking on the first part of this sentence.
There are a few gripping questions that give rise to this apprehension - Is it formatted right? Is this the best time to submit it? Is anyone going to bother clicking it in the sidebar? Should they? Is it anything worth giving the people here to read? Have I really said anything? And who said it?
All the first of those are neurotically driven, of course. Simple fear and paranoia, easily done in by a healthy dose of self-confidence - and, failing that, a healthy dose of numerous other things I have never been terribly fond of. But the last question is one that has always given me pause, and has never been satisfactorily resolved. To know if I have created something worthwhile, I must first know which "I" created it.
At my core, disregarding all my skill and knowledge and experience and emotions and mental circumstances and social circumstances and physical circumstances, I am really just a sentient being, identical to any other until shaped into a self by internal and external factors. And as the totally ineffable fundamental essence of consciousness, I can lay claim to anything I've done. But when I introduce to the equation everything I've done, said, felt and been, it gets a lot more complicated. It's changing all the damn time.
Right here, on Everything2, I'm known as "AsteroidPuncher". It's a fairly distinct persona - and with that word I don't mean a simple set of mannerisms adopted by a stage actor, but rather a complex set of implications from the mindset rising uniquely from its presence here. I could sum it up, perhaps, as the collective differences between who I am here and who I am anywhere else.
When I post something here I'm trying to describe something I've seen or done or thought in a very particular format - not like a detailed drawing in my sketchbook where the form is readily visible or a conversation with someone where it's all steered by what the other person is saying. It's a unique format, and it requires everything to be summed up in a particular manner to make any sense, and I have never been sure that I do all that for any real reason.
I know that I want to write, and I know it every time I see something that makes me think. That's what I consider the highest and most constructive way of putting thought into form. I can't remember everything I've thought without getting it out somehow, and most importantly being able to look at it later. A stream-of-consciousness clusterfuck means nothing at any time other than the one it was written at. And if I can look at something I've written later, I can see the end results of that train of thought without having to run through the entire byzantine thing again. Will someone else? I should hope so. Reading, and consuming language, is at its heart a way of bypassing the need to come up with a thought yourself. It sounds bleak, natch. Reading as just a substitute for independent thought? That's ridiculous. I didn't smoke that much. But it's true, in a way. You're using language to take in and (try to) understand someone else's ideas. Ideas you probably never would have had the time or impetus to come up with. And so when you're reading this you're looking into my head and I am hoping desperately that you can gain something from what you see.
But when I go to write it, something terrible comes over me and I violently close the window. Why the hell am I making this into such a thing? I've given writing such a high value it's the only way my mind works anymore. I envision it as the only outlet for the ideas whose generation I hold as the highest function of existence. And I'm going to post under a free-copy license under a pseudonym on a nearly-dead Web 1.0 writing community where maybe twelve people will ever read it.
AsteroidPuncher is writing this now, and AsteroidPuncher is the only person I contain who is going to be able to understand it. How long is he even going to exist before he's replaced with something different? How long is the site he exists on going to be around? How long will it remain relevant? Will everything he does and thinks and says here just be blown away meaninglessly like so much piss in the wind?
It's not that I think my writing is too good to post here - just that it's too good to post. I can't bear the thought that posting something here is almost like throwing it to the sea in a sealed bottle. I'm pushing it out the window and letting it fly and never getting it back. And the way I've constructed this idea, fleshed it out, given it life, is going to be my final word on it. I can't take a paragraph from it and put it in something else. I can't take the whole thing and use each concept separately even when they fit perfectly.
Of course, when I'm forming a chain of ideas in my head it seems tangible, distinguishable from everything else and definitively representative of itself. But when I put those words on the screen it turns into vapor, and it seems the only way to really explain it is with random shards of other ideas which themselves are constructed the same way. This thing I'm writing right now (what the hell even is it? an essay? a story? a digression? a pontification? a post? a writeup?) seems like so many unrelated things. I don't mind as much, because they're all at least aligning enough to connect, but sometimes they don't. Sometimes I can never reconcile them into one coherent narrative, and so these gleaming polished components lay unassemblable on the mile-long workbench of my mind.
I may well be fucked on this writing, and that would mean you are too. If I can't get something to make sense, what makes me think anyone else will? Or that they'll even try? The fact that I'm submitting this means I've given up on resolving those questions and resigned myself to never being able to adequately answer them. This might not be a good writeup - in fact, I'm sure it's not - but it's hard to
work toward some ultimate purpose if that purpose is impossible to determine.
Fuck it, I'll press "submit".