The Blame Game and Evolving
Or: How to get off your ass and write what you know
I've started this piece a half dozen times, I had an earlier draft today but it was bullshit. The basic gist of what I was trying to say got convoluted with anecdotes and meandering and never found it’s way back to the path and so I deleted all of them and now, now I am making myself write the truth. I wanted, earlier, to say that the reason I don’t write like I should was because of the columns I've read recently which detail how to get a regiment going, how to write every day and be successful at it, how to be a writer. I wanted to blame those columns for being smug and trying to put all of us, writers, into a box, a box I sure as hell wasn't going to be in, and for that reason, I would rebel.
The first thing I need to realize is that I AM NOT a writer. I like to write. I make no money at it, I do it occasionally and I am good at turning a phrase but I am by no means a professional at it. This is a humbling realization but one I've had to grasp to propel myself to actually being a writer. However. To do that I have to actually write. This is the tricky part. I get the urge, like a yearning, or no, more like a dull ache that nags at me constantly until I sit down and force it out. But, like someone dealing with chronic pain, I've learned to tolerate it, to ignore it instead of act on it. I recently began to ask myself why I do this and the reasons I've come up with are these: A) I can turn phrases, ideas I toy with in my head but I don’t have the discipline to develop them and (B) I don’t know how to write happy.
Let me backtrack.
I was diagnosed, on my 23rd birthday no less, with chronic depression. This did two things; It gave me an answer to the reasons I was feeling like I did and it gave me a crutch. medication was administered, it didn't take, and I stopped seeing a psychiatrist altogether and made a decision to better myself on my terms. This is not something I would recommend but, for me, it worked-in the long run. The way that I did this was I found “release valves” for myself. I would take long walks at all hours of the night, go play basketball, jog and eventually, write. Let me tell you, some of the stuff I wrote was morbid, morose and dark. But it worked. It worked better than all of my other valves and so I kept at it, and I must say that some of it was pretty good and people around me began to tell me I had a knack for it. BUT, it stayed dark, it stayed sad because it was what I knew and I had a voice, a narrative. This was my blue period and I embraced it, I was passionate about it and I clung to it fiercely. This was a mistake, I get that now, but at the time, it was all that was holding me together. It was also the most productive time of my life as a writer.
That time is gone now. I have grown up, married, taken a real job, made a life of myself. I've become contented and happy. And blocked.
And the urge is still there, burning in my shoulders, keeping me up at night, requiring attention. Now, though, I don’t know how to feed it.
When I was depressed, the words just poured out of me; it was like sap from a tree, it took a little effort but then it flowed easily. Now- now writing is like trying to suck water from a rock with one of those straws from a Capri Sun. I just can’t seem to get a narrative going. Which is crazy to me because I have so much I could write about. I have, arguably the most beautiful new baby daughter on the planet-a point I will argue with you blindly like a FOX news anchor arguing with a Climate change expert. I have an amazing and sexy wife whom I love and appreciate more daily. I have a job, insurance, stock options and a home…. but the words won’t flow.
Because I haven’t changed my mindset. I’m so stuck in the past that I can’t see how good I have it and, more importantly, I can’t adapt to writing about it. Part of me thinks it’s because nobody wants to hear about those things. This may be true. But in the end, who gives a shit? I’m not writing for them, I do this for me- it’s my release. The other part of me can’t seem to switch over, to see a good thing without waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have to stop this. I need to move on, grow a pair and train myself to describe and tell stories about me in the now. This and only this is the key to actually becoming a writer. I’m not one for regiments, never have been. Something in me vehemently defies the idea of structure and, honestly, I love that about myself, it lets me know I’ll never be a cog, that I've got free will and that I won’t kiss ass to anyone EVER. That being said, a little more consistency in the writing couldn't hurt- it does quell the ache and calms me. I've got ideas, jotted down in a notebook, good ideas I need to develop. Stories, true and fictional, poetry. Plenty to work with if I would just sit down and write it. And embrace being happy, Jesus, why can’t I do that? If you’re reading this, let me make a bold promise here at the end. This isn’t the end, it’s an end; an end to an explanation, an apology to myself, to a short phrase I developed in the bath tub after too much bourbon and luckily remembered enough to turn into this-whatever it is- but it’s also the start to writing in a new way, to writing how I am today, to writing what I know.