My total writing output has been next to nothing for months. I started a new job around the same time I stopped writing; I spend most of my time either doing technical troubleshooting at work or watching television, playing video games, going to the movies. Most of my entertainment has been completely passive.

This has led to a breakdown of my personality constructs and plunged me into a deep depression. In the beginning, I assumed that I could live without writing, since I never published anything and most of the things I started went unfinished anyway. For this reason I have a filing cabinet full of failed efforts, a stack of half-scribbled notebooks, a folder on my computer with fragmented paragraphs and charaters that only live for a page or two. Not only don't I ever finish anything, I can never decide on a format.

But not writing has been a living death. It is worse than writer's block, worse than outright failure, worse than any feeling I've felt before. I don't know how not to be a writer. I have worried about the legitimacy of that title, the title of writer. Some people write because they like the feel of their own thoughts, some write because of narcissism, a desire to record their own emotional fruition, and I had always assumed that my writing was purely a fancy of vanity. That I wrote because that is what feeds my ego.

What I have discovered is that I write to live. I don't know who I am when I'm not writing. My hope was that when I wasn't writing, I could be living life, having experiences for their own sake, not just living in my own head. I stopped writing because I wanted to start living, instead of just watching. But when I stop, there is no coherence to my experience. I can't see how one day is linked to the next, because they all look the same. I have always used writing as internal sonar, projecting my thoughts in the darkness and listening for what I get back to discover who I am. Without it, I lose my ability to clearly define the boundaries of my mind. I become gullible, dumb, and repetitive.

In my present state, writing feels necessary but unfamiliar. What used to take minutes takes hours, my word choice and syntax feels choppy and repetitive. This first salvo is like the words of a man who has forgotten how to speak. Nonetheless, it fulfills a hunger I didn't even know was there; the shock of recognition that follows the discovery of a secret pleasure.

Please bear with with me while I learn how to write again.

6 Hours

If you had only 6 hours to spend with someone you've known forever - six hours that may well determine whether you spend the rest of your lives together - what would you do? 1PM till 7PM, then she's gone; maybe for a month, maybe a week, maybe forever - you don't know. 6 hours.

During that quarter of a day, do you try and cram as much fun in as possible? Do you act the way you always have and let the last 6 hours be like any other 6? Do you buy her all the little things you've always wanted to buy her, but didn't for some reason or another, even though you know she'll love you whether you do or not? Do you do your best to show him all the ways you love him, even though he already knows?

He's always known.

Do you kiss him goodbye, even though a simple hug makes you want to run away in tears? Do you wait for him to call you or do you call him? Do you try and live your life without her, attempting to remain distracted from the void in your bed, your couch, your home, until she returns? When she calls, do you sound surprised? Thrilled? Nonchalant? Do you tell her you love her?

Do you worry about the psychiatrist? Do you pray the doctor doesn't tell her your relationship is hurting her, that it's against her best interest to see you or are you capable of remembering that you're the one healthy source of human contact in her life and simply realize she's getting the help she so desperately needs? Can you separate your wildly fluctuating emotions from the situation and see the departure for all its necessity? Can you keep from crying yourself to sleep at night, or falling down in the shower, using the running water to mask your own sobs?

6 Hours

If you had only 6 hours to spend with someone you've known forever - six hours that may well determine whether you spend the rest of your lives together - what would you do?

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