I’d like to say that being in Austin for SXSW didn’t allow me to write, but it’s not true. I went to SXSW for work and had some spare time when the classes and workshops were over, typically around 6. But then we’d have dinner, and we might have a few beers, and then when 9 rolled around we were most often beat. Going out to discover the city and nightlife didn’t really inspire any writing in the moment, either. And then it’d be bedtime x 100.
I should have so much to write about both Austin and SXSW, but I’m intimidated by the prospect. I mean, there’s so much to say. I don’t know how to organise the boatloads of information I’ve taken in during the trip, and I don’t know how to write about the things that stand out either: odd pedicabs with odd (but friendly) drivers, good food, “You got it”, real gun-totin’ Texans, sun-bleached buildings, business cards (oh so many business cards) and 6th street, to mention a few.
I wrote on paper while I was there, but nothing I would type up and publish here. Too many of my private thoughts and feelings were entangled in the observations I made. It made feel inadequate to not be able to write purely about the place I was at. Instead I was reflecting on myself meeting Austin, and the things I discovered along the way. Not that that’s a bad thing – it’s just self-centered, and I doubt anyone would want to read it. I don’t think I’d like them to, either.
I hate that I always end up writing as much about myself as the things I experience. To me, it’s a weakness. It’s a sign that I can’t forget myself and focus on the topic at hand. While some parts of the writer inevitably shine through any writing, the fact that I sat there thinking about my personal challenges while in Austin, at SXSW (for the first time, I might add) just makes me wonder if I’m too self-centered to write anything other than a journal. It’s a horrendously depressing thought.
At one point I actually forced myself to write a bit about Austin without adding myself into the mix. It brought relief because it felt like writing the ‘right thing’, but it also felt uninspired. I was feeling a pressing need to write about the challenges of traveling with colleagues and being me in a foreign place. So I did that, and felt better. But I also felt worse, because I’d given in to the allure of writing what’s closest – and easiest.
So maybe that’s what it’s all about: ease. Writing about anything other than what’s currently buzzing around in my mind is a huge challenge to me. Despite being in Austin and at SXSW for the first time, other things were on my mind. It genuinely felt like I had the choice between writing what I needed and writing what I ‘should’. I chose the former, and now I’m thinking the latter might come around on its own when there’s room for it. To an anxious mind eager to fix, fixing problems will be at the forefront. Even in a fresh, new place full of fresh, new impressions.
I don’t like what I just wrote, but I’m keeping my promise. Out this goes.