The best mistake I’ve made in years.

I suppose it was inevitable that I’d eventually come right out and pull a dick move on myself. I’m really good at them, and I know so many ways to piss myself off.

A few nights ago I made what seemed to be a very wise decision.

I was to quit writing and focus on what seemed far more important at the time– everything else. I am not even entirely sure what that meant, and how I could refocus creative energy outside of what I am doing now. I was getting to the point where I wanted to free my mind of the constant need to commit things to paper or text.

At least the fire was pretty.

This was the result:  My firepit filled with every notebook I could find, every scribble of a story, and all the writing from probably the last three years. A mistake? I thought so, at first. Now, I think it was probably the best thing I could have done for myself.

In those books sat a lot of awful things I thought about far too often. I filled them with great ideas, yes, but sometimes it was just a venting spot for all the stuff I could never find myself getting over.

Now, they’re gone. I intended to stop writing, ended up feeling more of a desire to do so, and removed unneeded stress from myself all at once. When I realized that I had done something I needed to do unintentionally, I was relieved. I spent perhaps only an hour upset with the loss. I don’t regret anything.

So, like most people, I found something different to do with myself this year. Instead of the usual ideas of quitting smoking or eating less, I’ll write more. I will stop keeping myself away from the situations I should be in in order to get it done properly. Needing to go out and find inspiration isn’t as dangerous to my lifestyle as I originally thought. There is so much I feel a need to say and do that denying it would be very cruel to myself. I have no right to do that to myself.

Just as much as I would hate it if someone held me back, why should I do it? I thought I was acting out of self-preservation in the burning of what seemed like an unhealthy desire. Losing something is a great way to learn the difference between a need and a want. I don’t want to write like I need to write. Not for anyone else, not for some weird desire to be seen around the world for some book I’ll never write.

Nah. It’s just there, sitting in my mind, ruling over me. I can’t quiet it, and I shouldn’t have a desire to.

All of those little overlooked details belong to me for tomorrow’s writing. Every conversation I hear becomes part of me. I watch people interact and find a source for something new in it. Everyone is my muse, and I refuse to let that die off.

It would be too much to try and silence my own mind. I’d probably go mad (more than I already am?)

I’ve run out of excuses.

I even broke my own supposed end of writing mere hours after the fact, and this was the result of it.

 

It’s 5am. The 30th. Very close to New Year’s Eve. I’ve just come out of a cluster headache haze, making it the perfect time to sit and think.

I burned the notebooks yesterday. I had a plan, then.

I was told by someone once that you may have to pretend you never wrote before to learn how to do it all over again. I had no intention of writing again, though– which lasted less than 24 hours– since I was hit with a barrage of “WHAT THE FUCK MORON NO” messages from all sides.

Alright, I get it. I was an idiot.

It occurred to me that, despite my best interests, I can’t stop. My mind was writing for me the moment I decided I had to quit. I realized why a bit after: I am useless otherwise. Extremely.

Not in that I can’t work or breathe or walk or shit.

I can certainly keep those things going.

Especially shitting.

Yes.

I’m not myself without it. I don’t care if it doesn’t always make sense, or if my sentence structure doesn’t fit perfectly, or even if the subject matter is nothing anyone cares to read. I do, and that’s why I started in the first place. It is as much a part of me as thinking. I felt liberated at the idea of stopping, but I quickly realized that liberation fed straight to a void.

My ultimate partner in all things writing is gone. His creator is, too. Yet still he pesters me relentlessly, just as he used to between 2 and 5 am when neither of us could sleep. We passed the time playing Wordscraper and bullshitting, often just needing to vent. It would turn to writing on a regular basis, as that was his sort of thing.

All the little trivial things I tried to ignore– nope, parts of a story. He’d insist.

It’s his fault I can’t stop. I can truly blame him for getting me out of a rut where I refused to believe my writing was going to do anything for me. He is at fault for being the ultimate mentor and even the occasional muse. He is the reason I am a ruined person– in the best possible ways. It took having it utterly beaten into me for the truth of it to sink in.

I blame him, and it’s wonderful.

He’s gone, but not really. It’s like a replaying audio file stuck in my head.

“You’re a writer, so act like it.”

“I bet I have more empty notebooks than you.”

The list goes on, because he could talk. A lot, and then some.

I spent nights proofreading. Debating. Cursing. Not my own things, but his. I helped to go over student papers when he felt like his mind had exploded. Thinking on all of this made me go over other memories, mostly recent ones.

I realized something.

This year brought forth so many odd turns and alterations, things falling apart and perfectly falling into place.

I aided some in betterment, probably led a few to damnation.

I managed to marry someone terribly beautiful and intelligent.

I traveled up the country to see the most amazing people in the world.

I stuck by my morals and self-preservation abilities to a fault.

I watched as people suffered, wishing I could do more.

I lost and won and failed and got my ass back up again.

All of this caused by pointless decisions of mine or others that didn’t matter at the time.

Every. Single. Little. Damn. Thing.

All of the life events you wish didn’t happen, wish could happen again, wish for them to disappear– they happened. If not to me, to someone close enough that I could feel it. Experience it by proxy.

Oddly enough, I can trace so much of it back to a few (seemingly) small decisions I made along the way.

Seeing how those events intertwine and undulate along through time to create where we are now astounds me.

I am not the kind to pray, but I pray to never lose my memory, so that I can always recall how I shape my own world through every single step. I watch people enough to see how they got there, too.

In the last few years, a five minute decision to take a weekend trip gave me a husband.

One poor choice of food landed me in the hospital in time to walk out hours before my friend never did.

One conversation cost me a friendship, and they still don’t know it.

One thought caused me to question everything I know, but especially what I don’t know, reshaping my mind.

One person moving across the country gave me peace.

One person moving across the country destroyed my peace.

One idea became a life goal.

Deciding to talk to someone I always intended to but never had the chance to led me into cultivating a relationship for them.

One person I’ve met but once changed how I view myself completely.

All the small, supposedly benign things that people overlook are more important than we give them credit for.

That stupid thing I said could come back in five years. Ten.

One false move, or one wise move, can make or break everything.

2012 is rapidly approaching me. Us. Everyone.

I decided I can:

Consider those steps. Rationalize them. Forget rationality, throw it away. Do what feels good. Rationalize them again.

Agonize over it, every single thing. Every detail. Feel miserable. Get emotional. Never do anything.

or.

Know that each and every minute detail makes a difference at some point. From the food you eat now to where you go to buy that shirt, it can do something to you. For you… or maybe even against you. Think, but don’t stop.

Never stop. When life becomes to terrifying to try something new, it’s lost the magic. Bad things happen, and always will. You can’t know what they’ll be until you get there.

Don’t let the horrible things fool you. There’s a fine chance that the risk you’re afraid to take might be the best thing you’ve ever done. Maybe it’s the worst for a while. It doesn’t matter. It all leads somewhere, and that place is filled with options. Even the threat of death.

It’s cold out here, so early. Quiet. In my head I am holding court with a dead man, and still his advice stands strong.  I think of what I never would have had if I never took those carefully executed, or hastily thrown together, risks.

If not for myself, but for those that rely on me in some way, I’ll keep listening to those mental recordings.

There’s no longer room for the what if or fear of getting in too deep.

I accept my little details, from their inception to the moment they change my life.

am a writer, good or bad.

am myself, good or bad.

This last year tried to take that from me.

This new year I’ll take for myself, for those I love, and for what I believe in.

All because I listened to one man living only among memories.

 

I’m glad I only lost myself for a short time.

 

Advertisements

Faking the Voice

I’m not very special, but I hope to be one day.

Hunter S. Thompson was special. Ian McKellen is special. People that devote a lifetime to their work (and even lose that life for it) are amazing individuals. They deserve to be noticed, heard, and even praised. What have I done? I write in a blog seen by, tops, a thousand people. I write stories people don’t see. Does this make me amazing? Hardly. Should I ever take it as far as I’d like, perhaps. But that’s quite a long way off.

It’s that sort of knowledge that I hope to see out of the actors I meet, the dancers, musicians… there’s no denying they are talented… sometimes. Just because they’re in a play doesn’t make them a Broadway-worthy name. There are a lot of very gifted people there, though, and I respect them. Not all of them are egotistical, it’s only just enough to make you cringe.

You want to chase a dream, and that’s wonderful! Give everything you’ve got and run for it. But it’s not cute even in the greatest of stars to be a total dick, no matter what kind of draw you have. So when it’s a kid in an acting class sauntering up and treating everyone around them like an abused dog, there’s no way to take them seriously.

For real, bro.

There are others I’ve met in various situations (I hang out at coffee shops, where everyone is a future artist/writer) that seem to take on their air of importance before anyone even knows they exist. Do I know talented writers with aspirations? Oh, yes, and many other kinds of artists. They’re wonderful people with amazing works that ought to be seen. Then there are the others, the ones that magically haven’t written a word or painted one canvas, but damn it, that’s part of the process. You just don’t get it, man. Don’t tell me nobody gets it. Even serial killers will have some crazy guy “get” them. No, I get it. You need an excuse to wear a cool hat and smoke while brooding without ever holding down a job. HOW YOU GET SO COOL BRO?

Also, poets. Dear god, poets. Some are truly master wordsmiths. Some… look, I’ll reproduce your work right now.

She looked upon my suffering, unending and pure

I gazed into her empty soul

There was a moment of utter void until, I demurred 

“Did you replace the toilet paper roll?”

Now I’m a fuckin’ poet! Suck it, Robert Frost. Emily Dickenson. E. E. Cummings fuck it, I’ll say the Vogons, because the ones up there were actually good.

To my friends that neglect normalcy, forgo lives, stay up all night working on that piece or that put themselves on the line for a craft, good for you. Again– I stress this. There are millions of beautifully talented people out there, and I’m so glad to know many. Hell, there are folks I know where I just don’t get their work, but it’s theirs, and I respect that. It’s those bastards that don’t do a anything at all who ruin it for the rest of us legitimately trying to be heard. You’re faking it for an image you don’t even deserve, one that people don’t even like too much.

I want to believe that the truly talented will someday be noticed for what they are and worked for. It’s a nice idea, but with so many in existence it is even harder to be seen waving your arms above the crowd. It takes a true dedication to your work, and utter belief in yourself that you can get there.

To that dude three tables away from me at Starbucks rambling on about that screenplay he’ll totally write (if you’d send me some cash, ma, c’mon! I’m an artist!)  I kindly refer you to this bag of dicks you can enjoy eating.

I made this handy image on my phone, if you didn't know what a bag of dicks looks like.

Part two of four.

I managed to stumble into another drove of those protesting kids. I got their ideas, their ideals, and their complaints. Sort of. It made sense to me that yeah, we’re being fucked. I get it. But these kids, they survives 9/11, recessions, daddy’s trust fund imploding, media and social barrages and utter failure of the system just so they can stand up against a monster they have no business fighting. They keep taking, and if you don’t give to ‘em, they fight you and expect nothing less than utter support.
This city was full of trash, though. The ground ran slick with despair. Garbage mixed with oil and mud seeped from every alley, maybe even the blood of some unfortunate. It was all here, and I figured I was ready for it. My smaller town didn’t compare, even though we had our own problems.

There was a glimmer of something I had never experienced here, something I couldn’t quite put a finger on. I could almost sense desperation, but that wasn’t right either. These kids gave me a muddled view of it all, and I was trying to extract myself as carefully as I could. I could write ballads about their faked misfortunes.
I had my own problems to deal with. Of course, every homeless shelter was packed with these guys. It didn’t make sense to me– they had homes, parents, probably even cozy apartments. I guess if you’re gonna fight, you have to play the part. By now I had found a little job sweeping up some animal shelter, full of the real victims of society. They couldn’t do anything for the situation they were in at all, and that to me was more tragic than a kid with an iPod wanting more cash.

I was told by some folks not to go out at night alone, especially looking like I do. But, as always, the night screamed at me. I couldn’t resist experiencing such horror and solitude, and I heard the darkness beckoning to me… as always, I fell for it. I was telling my own story to myself on this journey, so I never turned down a chance to throw in some excitement.

I liked to walk alone at night, really. People would usually see a guy like me wandering along and just leave me be. If I was brave enough to do it, I was obviously that which they feared. Worked out in my favor. Sure, some rat-faced bastards tried to prove themselves on me, but I’m no fighter. I’m just in it for the ride.
So, sometime after midnight I heard this girl. She was laughing like a hyena at this late-night cafe place, surrounded by a group of apes in polo shirts. I stopped and watched her for a while– overdone in every way, including her emotions– and wondered what she thought of herself. Did she know she was a fake? Does she even give a damn? After one of the thick-necked jackoffs saw me, I kept walking. If there’s anything to incite a riot in a group of guys like that, it’s glancing at the goods. She’d be railed by no less than three of them by the end of the night, I could guarantee it.

This is where things went a little haywire. I was kind of hoping to just turn around and go back to my filthy little cot next to the fat guy with a drinking problem, but nah. They closed up doors  at one am, and I didn’t think I’d make it back in time. Especially after the black kid with a gun shoved me deep into the recesses of an alleyway, about to make my walk go from a surreal daydream to a nightmare.

Part two: Writing.

Well, since the last one was so well-received …

Master wordsmith, here.

(I gave those bitches a list. Bitches love lists.) I decided to make another, for my other job. These are some things I’ve heard the moment someone found out I moonlight as a writer when I’m not teching out. I’m not some fancy published author, of course, but I’m gaining articles under my belt and have many, many unfinished stories, which I guess is enough for people to think I’m somehow good at it.

1. While I don’t mind proofreading someone’s long as fuck thesis on the anatomy of the testicles (that’s what a thesis is, right?) if the same person keeps asking me to check over their work fifty times without a thank you, I’ll be editing in so many “dicks” and “balls” your professor will assume you need to see him after class for special extra credit.

2. I won’t write something for you to take the credit. If I somehow get paid for this, cool. But since I’m trying to build a portfolio, letting someone else ride my words for their benefit blows. And not a nice, happy blow. A nasty, toothless one.

3. No, I don’t write poetry. I have nothing against it, but I don’t write it. If I did, you can’t read it. That shit’s embarrassing.

4. You should write a book!” … Really? I should?! Well why the hell didn’t I think of that? I appreciate that someone would want to read 453 pages of my rambling about inserting balls into a college paper, but I think it’s obvious that a writer ought to write a book.

5.  You’re such a grammar Nazi.” Ok. I take responsibility for this. If I correct something, it’s out of habit. I scrutinize my words so harshly that it just happens. If so, I apologize. But using that term means what, exactly? Does that make the person I corrected an “illiterate Jew” …? Just call me pedantic and save yourself the return nickname.

6. Which author should I read for inspiration?” How the hell should I know? I’m not you, and what inspires me may not work in your head. Also, aspiring to be exactly like an established author is a poor choice. You’re here to make your own mark, not pee in the exact same spot in a genre someone else claimed years ago.

7. If my headphones are on, I look like I need to shit (in other words, very intense) and I’m alone in a corner, I probably need to be left that way. I’m either watching some horrific pornography or writing. Probably the first one, but whatever. You don’t want to see that, do you?

8. I probably have no idea what you’re talking about when you start listing off your favorite obscure or classic writers. I love to read and have too many books, but I’m not a literature enthusiast by any means. I know the theories behind Ayn Rand, but I never read her. I never got into Twain. Sorry.

9. This one is really important, and I cannot stress this enough: I really love Scrabble. It’s like an obsession. I’ve been accused of cheating for some of the words I use, but I assure you, I never have.

10. Lastly… please. PLEASE. Please. I don’t know anyone that can get you published. If I did, I’d try and do the same for myself. I don’t know anyone that can help either of us. I am useless! IGNORE ME!

Still not getting this right, am I?