#7: Writer’s Block; Off Anxiety Avenue

I’ve tried writing post #7 for some time. I was going to throw together a recap of my 2017 in 500(ish) words but, failing to get beyond 50 words without feeling that anything more I’d have to say would be almost entirely irrelevant beyond my own little universe, that draft still sits in my inbox, perpetually incomplete.

I’d even considered calling #7 ‘Nowt’ because, as the new year loomed, I had a lot of thoughts and feelings about what had been going on in the world but ultimately, I had very little to say about it. Lo and behold, ‘Nowt’ has also been committed to the draft pile because – believe it or not – I had nothing to say about nothing

I could’ve mistaken this whole thing as another bout of depression but, funnily enough, I actually feel okay. Far from great, admittedly, but…okay. I’d even say that this turn of the year has left me feeling almost optimistic. I’m fed up of being unresponsive to family, friends and colleagues for days on end, and I’ve made a little internal pact to be better at that. 

I’m also fed up of whinging. Specifically, whinging, and not doing anything else about it. I want to be more active. When I come across something I don’t like, I want to stop being a backbencher, and actually make it out onto the frontline. 

The thing is, what I think I do best is what I’m doing right now: writing. Some readers would probably disagree with me there, and I’d honestly welcome that response. But I unashamedly feel that my best chance of communicating my will for change – even if it continues to fall short of actual, mapable change – is by writing stuff. 

That’s probably why I’ve spent many an afternoon taking to Facebook to whinge about Sheffield City Council and Amey felling local healthy trees; but why, simultaneously, I haven’t chained myself to one of them in protest. I have all the respect in the world for those fellow Sheffielders who have – and have done so peacefully – but ultimately, that sort of thing makes the wrong sort of headlines in the local rag. And no level of public protest will stop those journalists on the side of authority from backing the favourite time and time again – at the expense of the rest of the runners and riders. At least, it won’t work on its own. That’s why I write: in the hope of swaying one or two opinions the other way. If we all did our little bit in that, maybe we could persuade the very wind itself to change direction. But for now, trees are only blowing one way: down. 

The problem – as I have found for the past few weeks – is that I can’t always write: I’m just too anxious to. And not writing, well…that only leaves me feeling anxious all the more. The tree crisis is just one example. 

It’s just trees, Ryan – it doesn’t matter.

Yeah? Well, that’s the same thing they’re saying about Grenfell, and the NHS, and Islamaphobia, and homelessness, and the gender pay gap, and the misogynists, and the government that presides over it all. It doesn’t matter. 

Well, even if I don’t have the answers, and even if I can’t always articulate what it is exactly that infuriates me about any of those cases, I’ll say one thing for sure: these things do matter. Even if they don’t matter to you, they matter to somebody else. And that, in the grand scheme of society, matters.

Trees matter. People matter. You matter. And if I can’t write anything else, I’ll be damned sure to write that.

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