Agoraphobic Writing

By James Wallace Harris, Monday, October 17, 2016

Recent essays written for other sites:

In many ways I prefer writing for this blog, Auxiliary Memory, than writing for other sites. I’m somewhat agoraphobic, so I spend most of my time at home. And the older I get, the stronger that tendency becomes. Now those feelings are carrying over to my writing. I’m inclined to become a writing hermit, and just write for this blog. I like having all my thoughts in one cozy familiar place.

fish-leaving-bowl

However, it’s mentally healthier for me to get out of my house and my blog. Sticking to my comfort zone can be debilitating.

Writing for Book Riot is interesting because I’m way out of my element. Most of their readers and writers are young, diverse, and I’m guessing, female. It’s a challenge to create something they will want to read – and I’m not sure I am. But I like the challenge. Trying to resonate with readers from other generations is educational, enlightening, and good for my literary agoraphobia.

Writing for the Classics of Science Fiction or Worlds Without End doesn’t take me far from home. I’m out of the house, but I’m only standing in my front yard next to the street. I created the Classics site with my friend Mike. And WWEnd is about science fiction and lists, matching my own quirkiness. Their readers I assume are SF/F/H bookworms and book collectors. Some are like me, old white guys remembering the science fiction we read growing up, but others are young, reading books and authors that are unknown to me.

I’ve always said blogging is piano practice for writing. But blogging tends to be cozy and comfortable. The more I remove myself from the story, struggling to write something objective and journalistic, the more I have to mentally push myself. I can actually sense a barrier. Age and ability has it’s limitations, and I often feel like I’m a fish in an aquarium scoping out the edges of an invisible force-field that holds me in.

Even though I want to push myself into new writing territory, I have to admit that I’m most comfortable writing about science fiction. It’s what I know. Whenever I write about something else, I have to do significant research – and that’s time consuming, requiring much mental effort, and psychic straining. It’s like weightlifting. I have to build up my muscles to handle the new load.

Whenever I read a magnificent work of nonfiction, I’m always impressed by the bibliography. That tells me how much work they did. Even when I write about other subjects I’ve been interested in all my life, I feel like I’m leaving the comforts of home. I assume everyone has a touch of agoraphobia about doing new things, but that might not be true. Are there people that are always willing to dive into unfamiliar waters?

Before my mother died, I got annoyed at her when she refused to leave her home, and it was obvious she couldn’t take care of herself. We tried to get her to live with us, but she refused. Nor would she consider assisted living. Now that I’m getting older I understand. I worry that I’m getting so attached to this house that I’ll never move again. I also think about just writing for my blog.

I figure I have another ten years to try new things, until I’m about 75. Because by then the urge to stay home will be too overwhelming – if it isn’t already.

JWH

 

3 thoughts on “Agoraphobic Writing”

  1. I agree that blogging is comfortable. When I try something new, like writing a story or something more analytical, it’s a strain. I even sweat sometimes as if I’m working out.

  2. Can’t say that I feel the same way about blogging. To me, it’s exposure, just as much as when I publish a book. Maybe even more so, because my blog readers can respond to what I’ve written.

  3. Bach never traveled more than 50 miles from his house. I traveled a lot when I was in my 20s but now travel is just a big hassle. I have to pack up a CPAP, medications, and other essentials of an older traveler. Like you, I’m more comfortable staying home. I have thousands books, music CDs, Blu-rays, computer, etc. Being a hermit sounds good to me!

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