Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I Sat Down To Write Something

I am burned out tonight.

I sat down to write something. I thought this creative outlet might be a helpful break from preparing for a court hearing I have in the morning. Work has been a special kind of overwhelming lately. Not an exciting kind. The kind that makes it hard to sleep or enjoy things that aren't work.

So I sat down to write something. I thought it would be easy. And I thought it would be helpful. Because sometimes when I feel inadequate at something, it calms me to do something in which I believe I'm competent. It's not a big thing, but I usually feel competent jotting down some story or jokes or thoughts that will bore some troll enough to hate what I have to say but weirdly not enough to stop reading Stranger.

But I sat down to write something, and nothing really came out. I stared at the blank white space in the middle of the screen, a blinking cursor inviting me to say something every three-quarters of a second.

I stared at it for a while. I typed a couple of things and then deleted those things. Because they weren't funny. Or helpful.

Someone told me once that being a lawyer is incompatible with being creative. I thought this was a lie, because many lawyers I've known make their money off of being creative. For better or worse. But I guess, in hindsight, that person was talking about a different kind of creativity.

That person was probably talking about the kind of creativity that powers entertaining writings and inspiring music and the kind of creativity people pay to see.

I've fought for 5 or so years now to make sure there is no victor to this supposed battle between professional success and artistic endeavor, hoping that throwing equal weight to each side of the tug-of-war isn't just making me mediocre at both.

I don't know where this is going. I just know that I sat down to write something, and now there are some words here that say some stuff that I should probably think about a little more. But not tonight. It's 11:00 and I've got miles to go before I sleep.

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. Well I suppose I was sent here by the internet.

    You see, I (also) sat down at my son's PC to try and finish the job of getting his Windows installation onto a solid state drive, as he seems to be able to bring mechanical hard drives to their knees simply by being near them.

    Because he's 16, he had Reddit open, and it had this funny and good-natured thread on the front page:

    You can see where this is headed; somewhere deep in the comments is a link to your Snuggie texts post ("the best wrong number response of all time" mind you).

    So I followed it, enjoyed it immensely, read part two, and read some other stuff as well. As I scrolled up the blog archive, I thought, "I wonder when he stopped blogging"? Because that's how Wordpress blogs are, right? Especially the good ones from a while ago. The posts get sparser and sparser, and then there's one year that only has one post that says "Wow guys, it's been such a long time! You know how life is. Not to worry though, I'm back and ready to start posting again!". And then there aren't any more posts.

    But not this time. To my amazement and pleasant surprise, eleven posts from October 2016! A consistent posting schedule for scores of consecutive months!

    Anyway, I can't imagine writing entertaining stuff that consistently, and certainly not while holding down a job as a lawyer (well I would imagine.. certainly most of the lawyers with whom I deal talk to me in a way that makes me feel like I'm in a witness box and are not funny at all).

    But I digress. I've been around the web basically since it began. Between early websites and Usenet, there was a lot of well-crafted, weird, smart, funny-but-not-mean content from individuals who were not doing it for the likes or the internet fame or to promote something, but for the heck of it.

    That's what this site feels like. I think there's still a niche for it. The pioneer spirit of the old internet lives on.

    From the comments on your posts, it seems like it makes a lot of people happy, which isn't something that many people can claim to do and seems worth holding onto if it's something you can give. Maybe scale back the posting schedule if you're getting burned out on it?

    1. Welcome, Phil! And thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  2. Do yourself a favor and as soon as you can, take Paul Cyclemon out; the fresh air, exercise and beauty of the mountains will provide you the refreshment you need. Best,

  3. So yeah, I've been there. I've been there so many times, and it's incredibly frustrating to be there. I write for a living (not fun writing, more technical salesy stuff that nobody reads), but I find it incredibly hard to write the fun stuff more and more. When I want to write more, I read.

    If you aren't already following The Bloggess, you should be. Y'all are similar in a lot of ways, and different in very important ways. Plus she has 2 great books you can read that I think you would enjoy. And, here's a list of books she posted on recent weekly roundup (it includes one of her books) but they're all great. I specifically enjoyed Christopher Moore's Lamb.

    Get inspired.

    1. We say The Bloggess's name in hushed voices around here. Jenny has been very kind to me on several occasions over the years. In fact, a lot of people found Stranger because she shared some of my writings back in 2011. I will forever sing her praises.

    2. Doesn't surprise me in the least. She's pretty rad.

    3. Learning just now that two of my favorite blogs/bloggers are connected warmed the cockles of my heart and made me squeal a little.

  4. The struggle is real and you are not alone. You have built an amazing community out of all of this!

  5. Even the most creative geniuses get burned out from time to time. Do something else - something not lawyer-ly or creative-ly. Go ride Paul Cyclemon or something..take a walk, visit your crazy neighbor, anything to step out of the rut you're in. Even if you stumble and fall at least it's something different.

  6. I don't know that Im being very helpful here, but I want you to know that I love reading anything write. You are creative, hilarious, and brilliant. And those are not easy qualities for one person. To possess. I've read every single post?...blog? I don't know what you call them. Anyway..every single one since a few years ago when I discovered your snuggie posts. Im always excited to read your next post, and I read it immediately, which is impressive because I currently have 7 tabs open with "things I need to read". The point of my rambling is, you're a pretty impressive man Eli, and Im positive the world is a better place because of you.

  7. It's important to note that not everything you share with Strangers is funny or entertaining. Sometimes you share deep thoughts. Sometimes you get social-justice active and share your views on how the world should be in less than funny ways.

    Sometimes you are raw with us. This was raw - and it's always helpful to see the people you admire admit when they struggle. Makes the struggle for your fan club easier to bear.

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. You're good at this. Promise.

  9. I hope you have a really wonderful Halloween weekend with lots of friends and treats and fun. Maybe a trick or two.

    I've often thought that I could never be a counselor or therapist, because instead of being helpful, I would just sit there and cry with the people who need help. (Which makes me a pretty good friend, but not that great as a counselor.) I have thought similar things when you've mentioned cases you're working on. That I would just sit down and cry at how hurtful some people are in this world. Bravo to you for getting up and getting things done.

    And I know not every case is an emotional one, but even the weight of constant paperwork drudgery has to weigh down on the soul.

    Keep writing, Eli. Even when nothing if funny.

  10. Eli you are THE MAN. Love, love, love your posts....no matter what they say. Hugs.

  11. Get yourself some Zzzquil and have a good night's sleep.

  12. I don't know that Im being very helpful here, but I want you to know that I love reading anything write. You are creative, hilarious, and brilliant. And those are not easy qualities for one person. To possess. I've read every single post?...blog? I don't know what you call them. Anyway..every single one since a few years ago when I discovered your snuggie posts. Im always excited to read your next post, and I read it immediately, which is impressive because I currently have 7 tabs open with "things I need to read". The point of my rambling is, you're a pretty impressive man Eli, and Im positive the world is a better place because of you.

  13. If I didn't love you already, the Robert Frost reference would have tipped me over the edge.

  14. This is poetic. I love it.

  15. I'm more of a lurker ... with the odd comment every year or so... maybe that's every two years? How often are you supposed to use these computer things? It gets complicated with all of the lurking one has to do everyday....

    You're not alone! Exhaustion sometimes... just hits. Expending so much much mentally can sometimes make the creative aspect dwindle, but yet the impossible happens. I wrote the first draft of my first book during my first semester of law school (the first time around--long story short, I started law school in 2011, left for some soul-searching and then started law school over again in 2014). Since then, I find writing comes in spurts for me, but not everything has the same purpose. But for whatever reason, the creative bug took me by storm that semester.

    Sometimes it's creative - like fiction stories. Sometimes poems. Journal entries. Blog entries. Happy, sad, funny, romantic, introspective or rant - it always changes. But I try for something. That something sometimes fails, but I keep trying. I certainly want the best for you too. And you offer so much with itjustgetsstranger.

    Eli, we're here for you! Funny you, thoughtful you, just pouring out your thoughts you. Just you--whatever form you are in that day.

    One letter at a time. Let those letters walk those miles and roam. Sometimes they wander, but eventually, they will find each other and words will form. Sentences will come out again.

    One measly little letter at a t i m e.

    Lastly and most importantly, thank you!

  16. Hugs and deep breaths. Do something besides writing, that fills you happy bucket. It sounds like work is taking from it and maybe writing is too. Maybe instead of staring at the screen, go sit on your front porch. Set on your steps at 11 at night. Breath in deep, listen to the night and ask for peace.
    Like I said, hugs and deep breaths to you!
    Logan Night owl

  17. I've been there a lot lately. My day job as an office manager can be a soul-sucking parade of paperwork, administrative duties that do not win me any popularity contests, and customer service that bleeds the faith in humanity right of you. My part time cleaning job does not really provide an outlet either. I'm a natural night owl but I have to get to work by 7am, so I'm a zombie most of the time.

    I haven't posted much on my blog this year because between my 3 jobs and some personal losses and struggles this year when I start to write everything comes out negative or muddled and I just delete it and walk away. Most days when I find that mythical "free time" I usually find myself feeling anxious, frustrated, unfocused, and filled with a sort of melancholy that can be difficult to put into words. You want to sleep all the time to avoid, well, just about everything, but you can't because RESPONSIBLE ADULT, but when it's finally bed time you replay every mistake you made or your dreading the next day.

    Sometimes it feels like I either need to create something or destroy something or I'll be destroyed myself, slowly, quietly destroyed from the inside out. Occasionally I vent this frustration by going to the D.I. buying the cheapest, ugliest glass or ceramic items I can find for under $5. Then destroy them with my dad's old bowling ball. For 30 minutes I smash, then I sweep up, and go back to the way things were.

    I don't know where this is going either. But you're not alone, if that's any consolation. I came back from an amazing 12 day vacation in a place that's very special to me earlier this month and I fought back the urge to cry the whole way home. The journey home was a rough one, moved up to an earlier flight then bumped back, ugly layovers, more flights than necessary, flying United need I say more? And that experience was still more enjoyable than going back to work at my desk job the next day.

  18. I have two art degrees and work in marketing. I got here on a strange path that has included design work, legal studies, medical knowledge training...most of us do not strongly lean left brained or right brained. We are a mix of both. Creativity, the arts, are crucial in growth, development, and innovation. Facts, statistics, absolutes, are crucial in application and success.

    Never, ever lose sight of that. Beauty breeds compassion, which breeds successful people.