Not a Writer, Still a Writer; Still Not a Writer, Not a Writer Still

My failure as a writer runs deep, with successes few and far between. I won a short story contest in Grade Four, received an honorable mention in a Hires Root Beer contest, wrote film reviews in college, sports for community newspaper, ad copy for Toto toilets, was accepted to a Kenyon College writing program, and most recently serialized a speculative novel for which the publisher lost interest.

The failures are much more profound – nothing published, nothing at all, after 40 years – a few friends who bother to read anything. Not that I write this for sympathy but rather to underline the reality that despite all of this, I still feel the writer, still, as Highsmith says, only know myself when writing things down.

Coming to terms with who I am, remembering the pain and mistakes, not negating, just coming to understand the little wounds and think on the words that give those cuts dimension, not just typing to see the night to the end, but that essential thing coming out like riding my bike into the half dead forest, stripping down, throwing everything away and being naked. It’s the only thing. Or insufferable. One of the two.

Post-humous publication appears the best of chances – to be remembered by a species devolving into apps – and together we go into the ether.. 

Be What You Know, Stupid

I now know, or think I know, that I should only write what I know. I liked writing as a teenager and kid, but it wasn’t anything big. I just had a compulsion to write things down – travelogues, ratings for movies, things like that. When it came to writing stories, I was a clod, convinced that I had to write about important things, be philosophical, and I was really bad at that. (Expect examples to be forthcoming.) I didn’t write about me, about being a teenager, and that I didn’t like being a teenager or kid because I thought being a teenager was a stupid thing.

I didn’t write about that feeling of being stupid, never being happy with who or what I was, where I fit, because I didn’t – fit, that is. I wanted something else, something I couldn’t figure out. And so I pretended that I knew and wrote like that, instead of this, which, good or not, is what I know.It’s my voice, pathetic but real. I can be almost happy to share my embarrassment, my regrets and humiliations, my spasms. I’m getting better at that, better at understanding that the more I let it be what it is, the more to the point, the clearer my understanding of something – I don’t know what – becomes.

For one thing, I’m not much for Christmas. I liked it as a kid, the promise of it, but that was over by 8 am, lost among the heaps of wrapping paper and stacked-up stuff. I looked for it on the TV after that, but there were just cartoons and a dreadfully long dinner to come. As an adult, it’s so much worse, the desperation of trying to get back to something that never was, wearing elf hats, miming good cheer, taking pictures of each other looking stupid doing that. I am happy to be generous, but that does not mean having to listen to the drivel of siblings and offspring. No, I would rather do what makes me happy instead, yes, writing about that.