For you, the dress code is casual.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Literary Detour Before the Day Job

Ah, I should be jetting to work, I have a weird day, but it doesn't matter. I want to write. About what, I don't know, but it's like those Sunday morning drives; we'll know where we're going once we get there.

I'm beginning to reread Hunter Thompson. I want to reread a lot of it this year.

I had a rather revealing chat with GayBoy the other day, sharing a lot of the fears and self-loathing I've felt in the last two years, many of which still go truly unspoken and unexplored on these blogs of mine. Thing is, sharing our dark side doesn't work so well if there's no light to shine in them. Bleak, bleak, and bleak with a side of, you guessed it, bleak, doesn't really serve up too well in a world of gratuitous self-indulgence where most people just want distraction from the mundanity of their lives.

A lot of it stems from my fears of what I want to be, and my horror at the thought of needing to live up to what I think I can achieve. While I'm working towards that, I want to reread Hunter Thompson, because I think the thing that killed him as a writer (in the longterm) was creating an image of himself that was larger than life, even though he could live up to that image. I've always seen him as this sad guy who got what he wanted before he knew what he didn't need, if you know what I mean. He wanted fame and fortune, and when he got it, I think he lost the seclusion mindset that a lot of truly great writers seem to require.

I sometimes adopt a really wild persona when I'm writing, and it's part of who it is I am, but it's not the person I'd like to live my life as. I'd rather live as the occasionally funny-as-hell, but largely silent and experiential person I'm more comfortable being... but that's usually my wish to remain safe and unchallenged speaking there. Ideally, I'd be able to balance the wild and the introspection, and use them both to propel me in my writing life. I suspect I toe that line well on the page, but now need to bring that to my life.

Lit-speaking, I'm trying to go back to my roots, remember what it is that I want from writing, what it is that's important to me in the craft of the written word. Is it what I get from others when they've read what I've written? Not particularly, but then I'm not getting a lot of anything from anyone else right now, write-wise. Not a whole lot of encouragement, commentary, or anything. And I'm not sure I care, to be honest. I'm all right with things as they are today... not too demanding, not too challenging. But I'm not really one for the path of least resistance, not anymore, so it's time to start pushing that envelope and demanding more, but then what do I have to provide in order to make such demands?

I don't know what I need to rediscover about writing; if I knew, then I wouldn't need to be on a journey, would I? I know I need to get over this fear I have, though. All of a sudden, two years ago, my blog just SHOT into the top 10K on Technorati, out of the then-70 million blogs in the world, for a couple weeks there, I was in the top 50,000 WEBPAGES in the world-- not blogs, not papers, but webpages. I was pulling in 5,000 hits a day, making advertising money, had someone throw a new computer and recording gear at me for making a podcast, got interviewed on San Fran radio, and a bunch of other shit.

And it scared the shit out of me. I was, at the same time, reaching a peek in a chemical depression I'd unwittingly foisted on myself by trying to suppress my period for three months with birth control pills-- which ended up in a near-suicidal nervous breakdown that magically felt a LOT better once I finally got my period-- so all of a sudden I felt all this pressure to live up to this image of myself: the happy, shiny, funny, but always cutely rageful Steff of the blogosphere.

So, I snapped. I couldn't be that person, I wasn't ready for popularity, I couldn't handle what MIGHT be next. I pulled back, began to deal with myself... then I lost my job, then I was laid off, then I got a terrible job that spiralled me back into depression... then I quit that, and here I am, six months later, finally thinking I might be ready to tackle the possibilities again.

As a result of all that's come my way these past two years, I've fallen to, what, 300,000th place in the world, about 10% of the daily hit tallies I once had, seldom any comments or letters, barely any advertising to speak of... And now I need to build it all back up again. I think I can. Hell, sometimes I even know I can.

But why do I want to? Why does it matter? What do I ultimately want of it? Is it money, is it notoreity? Is it just knowing my words ring true to more than just myself? Is it just the writing itself that matters?

I'd like to believe that the love of writing and the craft of putting words to page are enough, I really would. Sometimes, it is. Sometimes, just pushing "publish post" is all I need in the world to make a day a good one. Writing's that much of who I am. Do I care if anyone else reads it?

In a way, not particularly. But... I happen to think I'm a good writer. Sometimes, I'm a good writer who even lucks into creating great writing. I believe that. I believe I've experienced enough pain, loss, wonder, joy, hope, fear, and surreality to tap into the human condition and span the distances between us all. I believe I have a unique worldview, one that sees us for all our weaknesses and fears while realizing all that's great and beautiful in who we are. I believe my worldview's worth sharing, and, more importantly, is even sometimes worth reading. After all, that's what writing is; it's a link between each of our humanity. It's our history, our legacy, our ability to empathize with people from all around the world.

And, sometimes, it's just really fucking cool to look at a jumble of letters and words and know that I'm the one that gave it life.

So, journeying back through the books that sort of made me want to have that literary permanence in the world, a voice beyond my years... it's probably a great start.

But now I need a different start; a start to my workday. I'm outtie.