So I’ve been slackin’ off some with my blogging lately. Mainly because I’m directing a show, but also because honestly I sometimes don’t know what I want to write about, what medium I want to write in, or if anyone cares. There is the money shot. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I write and who I write for. I journal daily. That clearly is for me to cut through the cob webs and try to stabilize my rambling mind. Other stuff, whether I care to admit it or not…is for others.
I like to think I help or entertain people with what I write, but I’ve had to consider lately the very real possibility that outside a very small number of people in the grand scheme of things…no one really cares. I am just one writer out of millions. While I may be fairly decent at it, I try not to delude myself into thinking that I’m “the best”. So why do it? Up until now it’s been for that ugly V word (no not vagina). VALIDATION.
No one wants to die thinking their life really didn’t mean much. So we seek, almost from the time we’re toddlers for something that defines us. Most of the time we can count on others to identify us based on their perception of who we are. Who we are in the truest sense is buried underneath layers of outside opinions and we self fulfill the prophecies of others until we reach a point when something just doesn’t feel right. Maybe we’re teenagers when it happens. Maybe we’re a 45 year old man with a classic Trans Am, a digitally remastered version of the Slippery When Wet album, and a young woman in the passenger seat born the same year Living On Prayer hit the Billboard charts. Whenever it happens, it happens. Then we spend the bulk of the rest of our lives trying to figure out who the fuck we are.
In a sense, I am lucky. No one ever labeled my a writer. It was suggested I was good at it, however it was never quite driven home as much as things like “you’re fat”, “you’re poor”, “you’re weak” (mainly due to my asthma). I was able to choose writing in a very organic way. When I did, I ran with it, but because I was never labeled “writer” it was harder for me to believe…Catch 22. So what did I do, I began to seek validation that I was a writer through my writing. I began to seek my value through people’s feelings about my writing. I’ve had successes that have allowed me to believe a little bit more, however when I have had failures…I feel those son-of-a-bitches like alcohol on a paper cut. The fond memories of first time out cover stories, acceptance to cross country playwrights festivals fade instantly.
I recently got a letter…a rejection letter…for a fellowship that I felt would have solidified the fact that I was indeed a writer of merit. It felt like my heart had been ripped out. I sat in my car screamed, and cried for about 5 minutes, then just felt like shit for the rest of the evening. Thank GOD for recovery. It took me no longer than 24 short hours to realize why it hurt so bad. It was because I not only was seeking confirmation of the fact that I was a writer. I was seeking confirmation of my value as a human being. That’s dangerous shit. That’s hell of a lot of weight to give a $10,000 fellowship. Ten thousand dollars ain’t worth my good feelings about myself. It’s time to abort mission, and redirect. Because thinking like that will KILL a muthaphucka like me.
I have to keep up the work on me. Double up my effort on being satisfied with just being. I was listening to A New Earth (by Eckhart Tolle) while I was on the road the other day and he said something that just blew my mind completely. I’m paraphrasing, but essentially he said that in my desire to be the best (writer in my case) I’m depending on millions of other people’s failures. That bothers the hell out of me. I don’t want my “success” and good feeling about me to be based on someone else being miserable. I want my life to be a success simply because I AM. Back to the drawing board.