I think something emblematic of my general indifference towards, well, life is the unpacked suitcase that has been sitting on the floor of my room for over two weeks now. I didn’t even think about it for two weeks until my father pointed it out to me last Wednesday when he walked into my room. I would see it every morning, still holding a few of my favorite shirts, and then dig into my dresser for something to wear that day instead. It has gotten to the point that I haven’t unpacked it but am now going to write an essay about it, look at it after I’m done writing, and still not unpack it when I’m finished. I think that this shows a general sense of procrastination on my part, because if something does not seem urgent when I am doing it, I am not likely to do it in that moment. I will instead do something mindless, time-consuming, or both in a pointless attempt to kill time until that thing becomes immediately demanding of all my attention.
I don’t know why I do this, and I don’t know how to get over it, but one of the reasons I started on this platform is because I actually use it to procrastinate. That might sound weird to some people who are not fans of writing, but I have started stories for myself that I have never shown other people to keep myself from writing an essay. Most of these stories then remain unfinished when the essay needs to get done, and I don’t come back to them out of lack of caring or necessity, or whatever the force is that drives me to do whatever thing it is I am supposed to working on. I would like to finish some of these stories, but I am bad at saving things, and worse about backing up files, so many of them have been lost to space and time and it is hard to pick something back up when it has been lost. There’s a mourning period to creators over their lost work, the same kind of emotions that make it difficult for us to write scenes about characters we care about dying, because we are often unable to distance ourselves from our work. It is not just a part or extension of us, it is us.
In many ways these stories that I don’t finish or lose make me feel as though maybe if I do write some of them and share them, then I am closing a chapter on my life, and that’s terrifying. Many of my peers, I think, struggle with a similar anxiety, many don’t. I have met some people who are very good at jotting down every idea in their head in the notes app on their phone and schedule everything in their life around the point in their day when they are dedicated to their craft. I wish I had that in me, but there is something about putting a story down and the anxiety of showing it to other people can be overwhelming. Which is why this platform is weird, but important to me.
Much like a full suitcase sitting on my floor for two weeks, I’ll look inside my head and see the same massive stories going through it and never do anything with them. I don’t know why, but I have some theories. In fifth grade I wrote, with some help from my mother, a story about a man who one day wakes up in the body of a wolf. It was partially inspired by the games Pokémon: Mystery Dungeon (a game series in which a person does the same thing but with Pokémon), and a T-shirt another boy was wearing at my desk group, which happened to have a wolf on it. The story was originally a page long, and simply detailed how his life had changed to basically being a wolf. It was typed up by my mom because she is awesome, and I entered it into a district writing competition, from which I never heard back from. That or my mom just didn’t want to let me know they did not enjoy the piece. I figured it out later.
The fact that they rejected me is not important to me today, because this story has been bouncing around in my head for over a decade now, and I have rewritten several parts of what is now an epic quest about friendship, betrayal, and loyalty with supernatural elements I don’t know how to explain, but would like to try in a longer form some time. I have villains planned, an entire map of a world made out in my head and know so much lore of this world I’ve never shared with anybody, because I keep putting it off with mindless activities. I write stupid, unedited pieces about dating (which was not interpreted the way I thought it would be by some people), dogs, and now a suitcase on a blog I don’t even know if my closest friends read. Maybe I don’t want them to. Maybe this should be a thing I use to reach out to strangers instead of posting on my social media for people I know to see.
Maybe I decided to start by sharing these small inconsequential things to get myself ready to share the bigger pieces of my life. I think that is ultimately what I am writing this for, to make myself accountable to start putting down these things bouncing around in my head, to make sense of them, to create and destroy worlds as others have before me and will long after I am done.
That’s a nice sentiment. I really like the idea of that, but it doesn’t fix what has always been my biggest fear, and I think a lot of writer’s biggest fears. When we start putting down these epic stories and spilling our guts onto the page, how do we start cutting things? I don’t mean sentences here or there, but entire pieces of what you see to be the identity this world you’ve created but know it might not resonate. How do you cut off a piece of your idea? A piece of you?
I have been bad at proofreading these posts, something I have been told I should be better about by some people close to me, and maybe I should. I also shouldn’t. One of the reasons I didn’t do that is because it was me unfiltered, honest as I can be, and in the very form I wanted it to be. I make fun of myself and other things and worry that maybe it shows me in a bad light, even though so far, I have used a heightened sarcastic version of myself when writing. That person has been absent today because sometimes life isn’t about making fun. Today, for me at least, it is about contemplation. It’s about being honest with myself about why I haven’t gotten to this suitcase yet.
I think that maybe I put off these things that should be done to give myself an excuse when it isn’t done right. Tell myselft that I just didn’t have the time, or maybe if I had tried harder it would have been better. I would do that all the time in school. I would put off essays because if I got an unsatisfactory grade then it wasn’t because of my skill level, it was because of my low effort, and therefore all criticism is moot. I write into my own bad habits as a writer like run-on sentences and my tendency to ramble instead of getting over them for the same reason, making my problems worse through over-reliance.
If I use the excuse of not noticing something or being too tired at night, I may never get to the suitcase sitting in front of my dresser. If I keep my thoughts to myself I may never gain any kind of readership. I tell myself I don’t care about gaining followers here which is an obvious lie. It takes a certain kind of narcissism for somebody to share something that was originally conceived as a journaling device a couple months ago, which is why the first few posts don’t have any views and are pretty spread out. In sharing these thoughts, I think I am trying to take accountability away from myself and put into the hands of others. Then maybe, I won’t start sharing these worlds for me, maybe then I will do it for you. Maybe, after writing this I won’t put everything in that suitcase away to get it out of my sight, but because with it gone it will stop annoying my dad. At the same time, I kind of want to leave it there to see if it really gets on his nerves.
Garrett Eicher, a suitcase packed with excuses.