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A writer's credo - Overactive Guilt Gland, Underactive Drive
2013 April 17th
06:44 pm
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A writer's credo
Which of my several online identities should I post this as? It feels like it belongs here, but maybe not. So if you see this copied verbatim by someone else later, it might be one of my other identities. But it probably isn't. I know I spend a lot of time online, but I'm not really posting as a hundred different people.

This week I got to talk to people from the mental health department who are 1) used to crazy people and 2) refreshingly did not try to drug me. One of them asked me what I wanted. I said I didn't want a boss, ever, and some other stuff. He said, "I asked you what you wanted, and you told me what you don't want. What do you want?"

So I told him. What I said there will not be repeated in this post.

But the question goes with stuff I've been thinking about this last week. Yesterday's trip to the mental health department helps me understand some things about myself and where I have been.

And as for what I want, what I want to be, and who I am, there is this:

I am a writer. OK, I know this is insane, because I DO NOT WRITE. But I am. I am not disabled; I am not a bum; I freely admit that I am "crazy people," but I am not primarily a mental case or a mental patient. I am in my head, trying to analyze, to put into words my understanding. I'm just not getting it on paper.

And just because I've been biting my tongue for thirty years doesn't mean I'm not paying attention--nor that I can't see you, see through you, and make some judgements about you.

If I treat myself as a mental case and my psychology as something to be fixed, I am miserable, and trying to conform to--to what? To what outside myself should I conform? Not my mother's religion. I won't try to change her mind, and she can't convince me of her god's legitimacy. Not some incoherent idea of social normalcy. I want something to believe in; and I believe in this:

I am a writer. I am a thinker. It hurt a lot when my grandfather said I didn't think, because I was thinking all the time. It was all I did. I'm not saying I thought well.

It doesn't matter that I am middle-aged, and did not write when I was young and ostensibly fecund. It should; it should deter me, it should convince me that I am wasting my time pretending to write. But it would be irresponsible of me to not get the things in my head out. I look around and see that there are things I have seen that no one else is saying--and that someone needs to say.

If I try to work as something else, to work really hard to conform to something outside myself, it's still hard. It's just--someone to follow. If I try to work as a writer, it's still hard. And miserable. But it's me--if and only if I write for myself.

I may write trashy short stories, I may write deep philosophy. I hope to write both. I may write under several pen names. I may write stuff I will pretend I did not write if anyone asks. I may write stuff that never gets submitted to an agent, let alone published. And all of that is OK.

I expect to die younger than average, cold and alone, angry at the world; to believe the world is against me and to be right. I will lose friends--I already have. And all of that is OK. Emily Dickenson is taught in schools where a commercial writer would not hope to be, and even the best scientific researchers barely are. I will write that my words--my ideas--outlive me. They may not; they may die with me. But I have to try. When you plant the seed, you do not know if the tree will be uprooted by the storm.

I am supposed to be this. When I was a boy, I wanted to be a writer, more than I wanted to write. I wanted my name on something, something to sign--whether music or books or movies. When I was a youth, it scared me. I didn't want to be lost in the pages, I want to live. For much of my younger life, I wanted to get away from it. But I never managed to be something other than a writer, but to then think, but I really want to write something. I was, "not a writer." A failed writer, in that I failed to write.

Maybe I'm not a writer. Maybe it's a stand-in for being real--real to the small child who spent a lot of time in libraries, who wanted to feel validated and there by being in a book. Maybe it's my way to feel...like what grown-up is supposed to feel. I didn't get that until I wrote the post above this paragraph, though. I'm not sure how much I've ever gotten that before.

Maybe it would be enough for the part of me that wants something to sign, for me to be a sculptor or a singer. But that wouldn't allow me to explain things complexly as I compulsively want to do. I would still really be writing, just with added interest to grab the eye.

Maybe I am just crazy. Maybe my ideas are really really childish and small, now--the ones that I have from childhood.

But what can I say? I'm the only me I've got.

And I really do have one story in me I have to tell, and I don't even mean my own.

Even if it's not how I make a living.

So now what?

(3 comments | comment)

[User Picture]
Date:2013 April 18th 01:17 am (UTC)
Heh, we seem to share much of the same spirit and the same conundrum. I thank god for the blogosphere. Although one cannot be sure of having readers, it gives one more of that impression. The writing is kind of out there. Money is still a problem, though, isn't it? Well, as they say, just keep writing. Life will take care of itself, one way or the other.

[User Picture]
Date:2013 April 18th 09:10 am (UTC)
i highly suggest julia cameron's "the artist's way." i have yet to complete the course, but even getting halfway through a few times has helped me immeasurably in accepting my talent and my creativity.

a big part of what she writes about is validation. we are artists, writers, singers, dancers, even if we never do anything in those fields. its just within us. BUT if we want to be happy & fulfilled, we have to find a way to express that in some way.

in her opinion (& i'm inclined to agree), everyone is creative in some way, but not everyone holds onto their sanity simply by creating. i stopped going to therapy in august because i couldn't afford it and i started treating myself by making art 5 times a week. man, i was so sane & lucid after leaving my studio.

after being serious about my art for 6 years & piddling around for the 10 years before that, i might finally know what i'm here to do & how i'm going to say it. i'm not sure, but we may be close in age so don't feel so bad that you are finally coming back around to the person you were before everything shat on you & convinced you to give up what you held dear. julia talks about that, too, & how to combat that effect.

good luck!
[User Picture]
Date:2013 April 21st 02:44 am (UTC)
Well, I'd say, start writing. Secondly, start looking for a way to live while you write.
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