Monday, May 26, 2014

Break the Censor

I'm too afraid of what you people think. That's one of my big problems. I mean I have a lot of large problems, but this one is really up there.

Many thoughts of mine are squelched at the moment I begin to fear a negative reaction. Many more are quashed if I read or hear something that might contradict my contention. The fear of looking dumb, uninformed, ignorant, unintelligent—it is far too much for me to bear.

The only way out that I know of is to act the fool. Shovel it out by the truckload. Write it all, good, bad and indifferent. Now this could and perhaps should be done in the dark and shame of my own room and mind. But the problem with that is, if only I ever see it, it's not getting at that other problem. It's hard enough for me to scrounge up the courage to sit in front of a blank page; it is almost equally as hard to then show that to someone else. My anti-embarrassment instinct is something to behold.

In this case it is quantity over quality that I need. Just keep writing and producing and showing until you don't care anymore. Get used to it. Get used to people looking in your windows. Flood yourself. Flood them. Make them sick of you, and then feed them more.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

State of the Soul: An Address

I've always been one for big, lofty pronouncements with no real teeth. I talk a big game, but really I'm always packing a squirt gun to a shooting match. In college someone said one of my short stories was nothing but setup for a bunch of big lines that were ultimately hollow. It hurt like a bitch. It was true.

I enter from the side door, say my piece, and go out the way I came. I'm interested in the sideways things, the in between things, the little subjects just adjacent to the Big Subjects (Money, Sex, Religion, Politics, etc). I've been mucking about in a sandbox for all of my adult life. Always wanting to take off, always thinking about it; never doing much about it. I'd say I'm content but I am not that, not too much, not really. Like a cat who doesn't want to kill the mouse he's trapped (or maybe doesn't know how to), I sit at a keyboard from time to time and make myself do the thing I say I love, that I was born for: to write. I have a rich fantasy life in which I imagine writing all kinds of tomes. Novels, works of staggering philosophy, withering polemics, high comedy, low comedy, motion picture scripts and a sprawling serial television show, (similar to whatever sprawling serial television show I am enamored with for a season).

If you want to do something great you have to do something you've never done before. I have spent the last 15 years trying to find a way around this intractable bridge. Can't I just be comfortable and safe and continue to muck around until I've produced something of great worth, both artistically and monetarily? Can't I keep my same habits, proclivities, efforts, insecurities, fears, but write whatever it is that I want to write?

I guess when I think of my soul I think of a writer. But that's not what I am. That's a small part of who I am, probably even smaller than I realize. I need spiritual chiropractic, like the rest of us. I am husband, father, son, brother, manager, teacher, disciple, reader, man, person. I am all these things, but I allow myself to be consumed by an idea that may or may not be true: I am a writer. I don't know if this is true, but it's an idea that I cannot walk away from. I've probably said it elsewhere in a post, but it bears repeating:

Get busy living, or get busy dying. That's goddamned right.

I am embarrassed to be on the verge of 32 and still be talking about this, still be feeling this, still be struggling with this. As the years tick by I find myself more and more interested in late bloomers. I like to think I'm percolating, and that I am incubating something massive that will emerge whenever it is ready. It is another lie I tell myself, but every once in awhile lies come true.