an image of Celina Carra from around 2008. she is a young girl with her hair in pigtails, wearing a blue floral shirt and blue paper cat ears. a cat nose and whiskers is drawn on her smiling face. in front of her is a sculpture of a red wooden box car containing a teddy bear and brown beer bottles

CW: Cathartic oversharing and mentions of mental illness and self destructive behavior

So, Hi.
I've been writing since I can remember.  Not like, well. and until recently, not with any intention of pursuing it past my overfilling notes apps and my plethora of google drive folders.  Music has kind of always been my constant.  When I got a ukulele at age 11 I began writing songs almost immediately, 3-chord masterpieces about playing outside and my daydreams of lions.  I played and wrote all throughout middle school and into high school, where I switched to piano and began to write more complex songs and perform them at the art museum. This remained pretty constant up until the beginning of my sophomore year where everything changed very quickly and all at once.

 It's worth noting that much like writing,  I've struggled with mental illness for as long as I can remember.  At the beginning of my sophomore year of high school, I went through a very traumatic experience with someone close to me who I trusted, which I won't go into detail about here, but it sent me spiraling into a depressive episode where I overthought myself into holes that left me bedridden with blankets pinned to my windows to block out the light. I was put on antidepressants that, through complications, only made me worse. After months of deep depression, I landed myself in a hospital.  I wrote some while I was there, a few songs about my experiences, which I put to music when I finally got out.

Things were a little better after that, but my junior year something similar happened, this time to an even more extreme degree. I became friends with a person whose bad habits rubbed off on me quickly. This time the depression was partnered with substance abuse and self-harm. My form of self-destruction this time wasn't overthinking, it was not thinking at all. I didn't write at all during this time, I wasn't processing things enough to put words on a page and reflect on all that was happening around me. So, back to the hospital I went, and something in me changed. So far removed from everything that destroyed me,  I could finally see everything clearly, and I began the never-ending journey to true recovery that I am still working towards every day.

I'm not sure why I thought that after over a year of not writing at all, I'd be able to go straight back to writing things I was proud of and finishing them. It didn't work like that. It used to be that when I started to write, words would flow out of me so naturally that it was cathartic. I was able to put words on a page so quickly and easily that I'd pump out multiple songs a day without thinking about it. But after all that I went through, starting to write felt deeply unnatural. I was a different person than I was when I last wrote, and I couldn't seem to find the same rhythm.

I guess in theory you can't lose talent, but I felt very strongly that I had lost the ability to put my perceived talent into anything worth looking at. They say you don't forget how to ride a bicycle, but what if you break your leg while riding it? It changes things a little bit. For a few months, I had myself convinced it was hopeless, that my brain was fried from my past habits and that I'd lost my chance to be great. But after a while, I got frustrated enough that didn't care anymore. I decided I wanted to just make things, no matter how bad they were, at any and all costs. That's the journey I'm on today.

I'm in a creative writing class at the moment and my teacher has told us again and again that writer's block doesn't exist. I've heard it many times before- if you have writer's block you're either lacking inspiration or lacking motivation, and you just need to suck it up and write anyways. I agree, writing through the struggle is the only way to get out, but it's such an oversimplification. I have plenty of motivation and plenty of inspiration, which is why it's so frustrating when I'm unable to write despite these things. It's not a block of inspiration or resources, it's a block of ability. Of course, I'd write novels upon novels if I could. But instead, I'm left feeling stuck and directionless, because despite all my reasons to write, I can't seem to remember how. Plus, it's less than satisfying to "just write" when all that comes out is overdone, overthought garbage. These formulas don't take into account the little voice in the back of every artist's head that tells us we're not good enough and never will be. It's as much a reason to go forward as it is a reason to give up. People like to pretend that it's easy or that progress is linear, but it's not. It's not about forcing it, it's about figuring out what works for you, and more than anything, figuring out a way to do what you love that feels natural and good, the way you deserve it to be.

I won't give up, because like many artists I have a self-important sense that there's something bigger out there for me. What I'm trying now is to force myself to write in new ways, since it's become so far from a part of my daily routine. That's why I made this blog, it's why I keep personal tabs on my progress, it's why I post reminders everywhere I can see them to get off my ass and make things. I'm on a journey to recovery and on a journey to conquering writer's block, and I won't let myself lose or give up. I believe that there's a future for me in putting words on paper, and I'll find a way to do it that's as natural as when I first picked up a pencil. I'll log some of this progress here, but I want to stress that I don't care if anyone reads this. It feels amazing to write again, and I'm proud of myself for it. This is for me, so that someday I can write for the world.

-Celina Carra