I read a blog post several weeks ago that I thought I’d like to respond to. I started to reply on the post, but soon realized that I had more to say than what felt appropriate for the comments section on this blog. So, like the pro that I am, I started writing a new post, and have since let it sit for weeks without touching it. I have, however, been thinking about it a lot. I read this blog regularly, most of the things she posts are upbeat and usually help me to stay positive, something that I struggle with. I wanted to reply to her because I like her blog, I engage with her and she engages back, because I appreciate the conversation. Reading ger blog has helped me to keep my own goals in perspective.
What are my goals? With regard to this blog specifically, I don’t know for sure. I’ve wanted to be a writer for most of my life. I started reading when I was very young. Though I’ve no idea what the first book I read was, my first literary memories are playing with Clifford The Big Red Dog. Then I’d spend entire weekends solving mysteries with The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, or I’d go off on wild adventures with The Boxcar Children or run across the wild-west by way of Louis L’amour. I discovered the cosmos in the Foundation series and the Dune saga. I was completely blown away when I read The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings. I remember reading A Song Of Ice And Fire in the early nineties and thinking Man, this would be GREAT television! I’ve been reading my entire cognizant life.
In seventh grade I started taking literature a bit more seriously. I was exposed to real literature, not just the serials and dime novels I loved so much. I enjoy certain traditional writers, but I have always been a bit resistant to the mainstream and most of what I read today is less classical than what people think when they hear the word Literature. Nevertheless I embarked on a journey through all types of literature and developed my own tastes, something I think we need to encourage our young people to do more, it is impossible to appreciate the art and the joy of literature if all you ever read is imposed upon you. In seventh and eighth grade I decided that I was going to be the next Great American Novelist, a la Steinbeck or Hemingway or Nabokov (yes, he counts as an American novelist, he wrote his best work after he became an American Citizen, and was quite active in his community). It was quite painful just a few years later when I had to accept that I wasn’t.
In high school I had a teacher. I had several in fact, but there is one in particular who still impacts my daily life. Two decades later I can still recall the first time he led a class. “I love essays!” he proudly exclaimed to a room full of disinterested delinquents. I went to a school for ‘troubled children’ in a predominantly hispanic area, and to hear a silly, slightly overweight white man from Vermont proclaim his love for what we thought was eses was a moment that I will forever cherish. Mr. Greenia taught me that I could in fact write however I wanted to write, that I could break all the rules, if I knew what I was doing and why I was doing it that way. My first paper in his class was titled Mussolini Was A Cocksucker and he gave me an A+, then politely asked me to refrain from using such profane language in his class. I did.
I had a few more teachers who saw through the masks I wore – that’s figurative language of course, I got a bunch of tattoos and dressed and acted like a badass to protect myself from the scary, painful world, a tactic I use to this very day in fact. These teachers really cared about what they were doing, reaching less-fortunate children and helping to show them a way to improve their lives and the world around them. I had teachers who held me accountable, I had teachers who cared about me and listened to my problems and my perspective, I had teachers who were unwilling to accept less than my personal best.
After high school I forgot how much I loved writing. When it was no longer a requirement, I didn’t get around to doing it that often. I wrote short fiction and poetry here and there, I submitted and had some of it published under one of many pen names, made a very small bit of money, but it was nothing more than a hobby, and I was losing interest in it as my responsibilities began to grow. I hate to admit this, but I feel like I have to; I used to write erotica, nothing serious and probably nothing any of you have read, but I stopped when I listened to an audiobook read by a very old sounding man and heard how creepy it was, since then I’ve tried to eliminate every such scene from everything I write. I still read books voraciously, but I could not find time to fit writing into my schedule for most of my adult life.
I started a silly little blog in 2005 or so that I ran for about a year, but it was nothing more than a novelty to me, I never put much time into it. I am proud of some of the artwork I had up there, it was mostly a place for me to share some graffiti art and short fiction, but even that became too time consuming as my family continued to grow. I was trying to hang on to the idealism and energy of my truncated youth, but being a young parent trying to raise children with no support to speak of has a way of crushing one’s dreams. And I am not complaining, I am confident that were it not for my children, and my oldest in particular, I would not even be here today to be writing this, I only wish I had the foresight to use what little freetime I had to pursue my dreams, rather than to chase that ever elusive Rest and Relaxation.
Fast forward a decade or so and I found myself at a crossroads. I hate bringing this up because I don’t want it to define me, but it is relevant to what I’m doing now. My entire life had been swept out from under me and I was forced to make some decisions. Some were very difficult, some were quite innocuous, but all of them were daunting at the time. I found myself without an apparent reason to keep striving for success, and I was forced to do some serious self-reflection.
Long story short, I came out on the other side of this crossroads with a new commitment to life itself. I’ve always been a bit disgruntled, a bit idealistic and foolish, a bit angry. The world makes me angry. The human race makes me angry, though I love humanity at times much more than I love myself. I have always been unwilling to accept less than the very best. And I don’t mean that I want high-quality commodities and consumer goods, I mean that I get upset when people become complacent and apathetic. I get upset when people settle for less, when they say “good enough” and when they turn a blind eye to things in the name of convenience.
I started this blog because I had been writing again. I was writing a lot. I was writing a lot more than I’m writing now, in fact. Since starting this blog, and attempting to assert a presence online and make an impact and even make a bit of money, I’ve felt more pressure and enjoyed the process less. But, I started it because I was writing a lot and I felt like I needed to share it. I was displeased with my daily experience and I figured I’d do better to at least try and make an impact than just sit and be upset. I have always felt like the world could benefit from some serious self-reflection, some honesty and integrity, and some compassion.
That’s pretty much it. The world is an amazing place. It is also a scary and disgusting and repulsive place. I write because I think that by encouraging people to be honest, advocating for compassion and critical thinking, and demonstrating how that’s done with personal anecdotes or thought provoking content, I’ll have a chance to make an impact. Since I started this blog, though, and especially since I started posting pieces on Medium and getting a little bit of financial returns, I have become much more concerned with the quality of what I write and have been sharing less and less of it. So, I guess I could say that I’m a blogger that doesn’t blog anymore, a writer that can prewrite for hours and rarely commit anything to the page, or the pixel as they say.
I am very disorganized. I’ll have an idea for an awesome piece about something worth discussing, so I’ll research and outline and prewrite, but I rarely actually write anything anymore because I get exhausted and overwhelmed and then just get back to the real world. This blog should be a place where I can go and just get stuff off my chest, blow off steam or experiment, but I have let it become a source of stress and an actual barrier to getting my work out there.
I will do my best to let the creativity flow, to stop obsessing over every single detail, to stop thinking that every single blog post is a pulitzer contender, and to keep producing the things that you folks have shown me that you like. I would like to start writing fiction again, something I haven’t done in about a year, and I’d like to share it here. I’d like to take more photos and care less about them looking perfect and just getting them out to you all. I’d like to allot time every week for the serious things I write and get back to doing blog posts regularly. Most of all I’d like to continue engaging with the world in as many ways as I can manage, to have as many conversations as I can, and to continue learning as much as I can.
Thank you all for stopping in folks, I deeply appreciate your time and attention! Go out and be the best version of yourself that you can be!
This is my face. Enlarge at your own risk.