I wrote a couple of drafts of what I hoped to have posted yesterday. The words seemed lacking in exact meaning, and I failed to express my feelings in any way appropriate to my current state of mind. But I've been here before, many times before, when life converges, then diverges again in a watershed moment.
I must no longer identify with “I am an author.” The experiment is ended—for now. I won't stop writing (it's too much fun and too interesting to give up), but I think for the foreseeable future, writing will not be my main priority as it's been for the better part of a year.
Fact is, I have a problem with perfectionism, with this feeling that I must be a “somebody.” I do a pretty good job about not caring about being anyone important, but I've worked writing up so much in the last several months that every time I sit down to write, or even more, when I don't sit down to write, I am reminded that I am not somebody. Such a burden on my mind, and I do not care to have it. If success means tormenting myself for not living up to society's standards of fame and fortune, I'll gladly do something else.
Anything else, but not try, not force myself to write for money, for fame, for success.
Call this my “fuck it” moment.
Now it's out of the way, and I can talk about positive things! Like the fact that I do not plan on quitting writing. I'm going to tone it down a bit, but I still hope to be consistent (an hour a day, a little for the blog, a little for a story, a little poetry or whatever). My main focus will turn to LIFE.
Right now the most fun I'm having with anything I'm doing is my studying of the Spanish language. I've been studying it on and off for several years, and I have a pretty solid understanding of the language and a pretty basic vocabulary, but I want to push myself for the rest of this year to reach some sort of mastery.
The main difference between spending most of my time writing, and most of my time studying Spanish is that Spanish is tangible. They're both dealing with language, with words, which I absolutely love, but with Spanish I can open more doors in my life than I can with writing. They're not mutually exclusive of course, but I need something concrete, practical. Learning Spanish, I'm a stone's throw away from more career options, not to mention the fact that my beautiful girlfriend's entire family speaks Spanish as their native language. I see in Spanish a quicker, more effective way to gain some success, because it's something I can actually show people, and do.
Another focus in my life at this time is in my spiritual development—and this is directly tied to my anxiety disorder.
I'm a very phobic person (very neurotic), and for as much confidence as I have in my abilities and in myself as a human being, I have an equal amount of doubt and hesitation to actually unfold myself and enter back into society. Yet that is exactly what I've been doing for the last couple of months, breaking out here or there, doing this or that, unfolding as the flower unfolds in the morning sun after a long, damp night.
I've been helped along tremendously by a friend who has moved back to town recently, and by my girlfriend who continues to support me even though her own fears are evident. Recently we (my girlfriend and I) even plotted out a possible career path in counseling. Getting a masters degree in counseling seems like an intuitive thing to do (I talk a lot, am a reasonably good listener, love psychology even more than I love writing, and love even more helping people), but it'll take many years, and will be a goal that will have to be worked on piecemeal, part of which includes overcoming my social anxiety disorder.
Writing has always been my crutch; most specifically my dream of being a published, paid author. My dream of writing for a living and my desire and need to let go of my anxieties and live a well-balanced, fruitful life are mutually exclusive. If you were to ask my mother or my girlfriend what they would rather have me do, be a reclusive, malfunctioning writer or be a well-rounded and sociable human being, I think they'd both pick the latter—and so would I, because I know that I will not lose my ability to write by taking more risks with my life.
I want to be a published writer because I don't want to go out and get a job, go to college, or otherwise interact with large groups of people (which is ironic, because to succeed in writing one must be able to socialize). Yet I've been doing a lot of spiritual cultivation lately, finding my true self and all that jazz. I've realized something important. There's a difference between writing and writing. Writing is a physical act of putting ideas down on paper, and in that, is a perfect exercise of what a Zen monk would call “Drawing water and carrying wood.”
But writing is totally different. It is a matter of wanting, of craving, of possessing, identifying, and reaching for something wholly intangible, abstract, and unreal. “Success.” This wanting to be somebody.
Having a job, working, especially if it's something completely menial, would be perfect for me because it's just practice—drawing water and carrying wood.
And so as I reach out to the world around me, join in it, however painful this is (and it's been quite painful), I must let go of the intangibles I've cultivated toward writing. Now when I write, as I'm doing here, I will treat it as practice. I will write for writing, and not for anything else. I will publish for publishing, and not for anything else.
I don't care where it takes me, if it takes me anywhere. I have a goal, but I'm not attached to the outcome. The goal is to make the words, focusing always on making the words (as well as editing and publishing the words, but in their own time and place).
Hopefully I will not put down my dream of being a published writer only to pick up another crutch. I must guard against that. But also, I'm in no way denying success. I'm not sitting here saying “I don't want it.” I don't not want it, either. If I wake up tomorrow with a million dollars in my pocket because of something I wrote, I'll put it to good use!