This has haunted me since I can remember my first interactions with other kids. "Hey, Kuba!" they'd call me. My last name was Kubeeva and my nickname somehow became the synonym for Cuba. I would look up from whatever it was I was doing and wonder what I have missed. Often some mischief would've happened already, like my school bag would be stolen or, in one particular case, a group of girls told me to hide and wait for them, while they took off. I'd be so far gone into my head that to dismay of my petty tormentors I didn't even understand that they were making fun of me or hoped to somehow wreck my day. Which, of course, irritated them even more. Most of my memories consist of bewilderment. Something would happen and I would miss it. Often something important.
I thought now that I'm an adult, I'm over this. Not so.
When I started writing, I was so focused on learning how to write, I rarely raised my head from my stories to see what was happening around me. I tried writing groups and writers' meeting, but they proved too distracting. So I holed up at home and wrote like mad. People would poke me sometimes and ask, "Hey, what do you think about this?" or "What do you think about that?" And my response would always be the same, "Huh?" I would somehow miss what everyone else was talking about. This is not me in grade school anymore, this is me now, on social media, talking to other writers. And other writers see things, and I don't.
I just got pinged about my opinion on sexist obituary for Colleen McCullough and the outcry it produced on Twitter in the shape of #myozobituary hashtag. Even Neil Gaiman tweeted about it, I was told. I was asked questions. I answered them. But what bothered me most was that I have somehow missed it. I was racing to finish the third draft of THE BADLINGS when it happened. Only this is not the first time. There were other important talks that I missed, like one on diversity in books, and one on Ferguson, and something else. My memory is so selective, I can't even remember what it was.
And the old pain reared its head.
I broke down crying. I'm crying as I type this (such a fucking cry baby). Somehow I keep missing things. Again. Just like when I was small. Somehow other writers stay abreast on important stuff that's happening, and I manage to stay blind. I feel again like that little girl, "Huh?" And I feel isolated from everyone, again. Even when I do read news, which is rare, I seem to miss things. Or maybe I read the wrong news. I also seem to not have an immediate response to what I see, like a paralysis of sorts. If no one else said anything about a particular topic yet, I'm afraid to say anything. What if it will be stupid? Or wrong? Or not to the point? And so I bury my head in writing and reading, because it's the only thing that I know will keep me going. I read, and I forget everything, and I feel good.
It seems to me that to break to that next level—remember I blogged about it?—I need to find a way to get out of this shell. Is my blindness some kind of an automatic protection mechanism? Where is it coming from? I feel so alone and have so little hope of anyone understanding me that I can only share what I feel on paper. So I do. But the need to be connected is strong, particularly the need to connect to other writers. And I feel like I'm failing again, getting lost in my head, in my stories, focused so much on me that I miss things that are happening right under my nose.
And yet...and yet this is peer pressure that I'm putting on myself. I can exist as an artist in a vacuum, if that is what helps me create. Reading news and participating in the drama that happens on social media makes me nervous, anxious, and at times escalates to a mild panic that takes hours to quiet down. When I'm shaking from being agitated and afraid, I can't create. Over the last 2.5 years of writing full time I got to know myself better, and I have learned that I create best when left alone. I'm such an excitable little monkey, any small thing can kick me out of my creative equilibrium and leave me barren in the matter of hours, so when it's time to write, I have nothing in my head. It's blank.
I don't know why I'm writing this here. Well, no, I do know. I'm writing out this intense emotion right now because it's like therapy. It helps me get rid of it. I'm also writing to hear how you guys stay informed on everything that's happening around you, especially in the writing world. And I'm writing to connect, in the hopes of hearing your stories. How do you deal with the same? If you do. Maybe you don't have this issue.
As to me, I will go read LOTR and try to forget this, so I can stop smearing snot all over my face and feel good and fight Sauron together with Gandalf and the rest of the crew. You know, escape.