Apathy, Part 1 – My Attempt to Assess and Understand
It’s a dangerous, comfortable thing. Its danger is in the relief it provides. You weather a storm of emotions, swirling in subconscious corridors, pulling apart the delicate fabric of synapses. Finally, your mind just cannot handle it. Some sort of overload, like a fuse that finally blows in the electrochemical circuitry of the brain and suddenly, the emotions no longer bother you.
Oh, they don’t go away. You should never think an apathetic person doesn’t have feelings; quite the opposite. The feelings simply stop registering. The brain withdraws, refusing to let the emotions cause more pain or stress. But with the stress, willpower, motivation, and the urge to improve can also get washed away in the numbing mental bleach of apathy.
I find myself at my writer’s desk. The story is within, yet so are many other thoughts, a tangle of threads that seems impossible to unravel. I know what will happen next; I know what I have planned for my characters. Yet I cannot remember why. My reasons for writing, my motivations, they can’t break through the mess of feelings or the apathy that stands between those feelings and my full awareness of them. A coffee seems good right about now. Maybe a chocolate bar. I wonder what’s happening on Reddit and Twitter now? How about a session of Skyrim or No Man’s Sky? Anything would be better than trying to pry the story out from under the layers of feelings and negative thoughts covering it.
My personal life is a wreck. My schedule has left me little time for a social life. Even when I do meet people, they aren’t my people. The writer’s club I was with now meets on a night I simply can’t get out. Those people were my support, my backup, my reason for writing. It was easy to write when I could meet them every week.
I’ve lost the in-person meetings with that group. With my kids and my wife’s full-time-plus job, it doesn’t seem like I’ll get back together with them regularly anytime soon.
My relationship with my wife is at an all-time-low. We barely talk, and when we do, it’s so that she can complain or lecture me. I know so much is my fault, and that I probably deserve the bad feelings, but it’s so hard to improve when I know exactly what our next conversation will be.
This first post about my apathy problem is my attempt to size it up, look at why I’m burnt out. I think I can sum it up like this: my apathy manifested once my mind couldn’t handle all of the feelings. My writing has suffered because I can’t meet my friends, yes, but there’s another reason I can’t write. Writing requires me to process feelings and experiences, weave them into a narrative. My desire to write is down, because my willingness to confront my feelings is way, way down.
Over the next few Sundays, I will post updates on this apathy. I will look for ways to meet people, ways to boost my writing morale, and ways to confront the relationship problems that are behind the writing problems.
For my readers, I’d appreciate if you share experiences of burnout or apathy, especially as they relate to writing. I’ll read your replies, and work them into the next post.
I appreciate any and all insights. Thank you so much in advance.
Apathy, sculpture at Canary Warf, photo by Monika Bota, https://www.flickr.com/photos/monikabota/4768246617
The Passion of Creation, painting by – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leonid_Pasternak_-_The_Passion_of_creation.jpg