It is not easy to let yourself off the leash. Trolls abound, it seems the safer bet to mince your words beyond recognition. But it does not do justice to your sentiment if you are so refined. The process of hashing and rehashing takes something out of your expression which you don’t really know was there, once it is gone. This is the rhythm of life – it shines through in words without conditions and is lost in words finely tuned.
That said, words finely tuned can be pithy and more beautiful than their unrefined counterparts, but something may still be lost in beauty. It is this organic and genuine expression which is often missing in my own words, far too often, and I cannot blame it on anything but fear.
I do not say to you: “let yourself go”. The task of being a writer is as much knowing what not to say as it is knowing what to say. But it is fair that in our fear of saying too much, we either occlude the truth beyond recognition or say nothing at all, and that, for a writer, is a shame far beyond not expressing things beautifully.
Should I think you have nothing to say, it is because I am self-centered. Or maybe it is because you have said things in the past which do not make sense. Or maybe it is because you say things again, which I have already heard. It is perhaps because what you say is frivolous, and I tread on higher ground.
It would all be very interesting, but perhaps I find you unattractive. I am not only self-centered. I am superficial too. As a writer it is words which should excite and not how or who. But I will say that should I choose (and off the record), I choose a beautiful woman’s casual charade to cold comfort of philosophers. I am not less a MAN for that. But I am less a man, sure. Because I’m just a man, sadly.
It is sadly indeed, for in every communication their is a life behind the words. A life to empathize with, for it is a life you could have led. To not reflect in those moments, on what your life could have been, and allow yourself to be struck with boredom – that is self-centeredness – and it is worth fighting that.
And still it is so much easier when you are beautiful to look at.
If you can’t always keep a straight face during mass, if you tend to laugh at political hearings because they are great theater, if you tend to think that Saturday Night Live’s Evening Update is better news than the news, then it is a sign that you suffer from irreverence. It is a condition known to afflict millions of people who nonetheless manage to survive, provided they conform to protocol.
The protocol for irreverence is that you can’t be serious. If you are not serious, you can be as irreverent as you like, as long as you don’t divulge too much. If you insist on being serious and you are nonetheless irreverent, you will be taken as a threat to the peace. If you are serious and reverent, you will be taken as a prospective political candidate or moral leader – in short a threat to the power of those with power. But if you are just not serious then you can be reverent or irreverent all you like – in short, you can live your life.
The trouble, you see, is not that I can never be reverent. It is that I can’t always be reverent. There are always those too astute observations of the absurd which strike my mind and no force of will can restrain me from comment because they are too funny. They are just funny and it’s not my fault. But they are enough for people to look at me askew…
So I have decided to relegate my seriousness to refined literary and unspontaneous text which need not absorb my life. In short, I have decided to live my life. It is by all accounts an absurd life and no one can take that away – but it is freedom to let that absurdity live in comedy and not insist on fighting the absurd with sincerity, because you will lose, seriously.
What I mean to say is that I am done with spontaneous story telling in public places. In good story writing one must take risks. In taking risks, half the time you look at what you’ve done and say “I can’t say that.” and the other half of the time you say “I can’t say that, but if I change just this, it’s brilliant!”
This risk-taking is not made for an impromptu stage, it is made for paper and small gatherings in private among friends. This is not to say you cannot be risqué, but such must first be vetted with thought and sleep. But after watching the first season of Game of Thrones, I suppose I don’t truly feel bad about including cliché references to a Haram and Midgets in my latest foot-in-mouth tale.
Is it that deep within us, two modules collide, and what springs forth is something irreducible to either?
Is it that Angels and Demons have it out, and what gets through is either passible innocence or determined indiscretion?
Is it that we know what we want to say and intentionally sew it a cloak?
Is it that a hack is made and we say from suggestion what we never intended?
For the ignorant, there may be only one answer and always.
For the writer with a story to tell it is none of these, but rather a weave that touches many realities and still appears a single thread.
To those who struggle with discipline in an artistic field, there is an issue of hearing what you want to hear. When you hear that your work is good, that you should keep it up, that you should concentrate and develop it… There is for you a temptation to throw caution to the wind and leave the rest behind and be that artist you can be, and that alone.
Of course, those who have talent must occasionally get confirmation and often deserve it, but it can also run amok. I don’t speak of the pitfalls of the inflated ego, where one’s hubris outstrips their talents and they believe everything they touch is gold. Rather, I speak of the simple capacity for attending to that which may allow a person to succeed in continuing to produce. The capacity for the discipline to deliberately make commitments and deliberately stick to them – despite the muse.
After writing the posts I have this month, I have realized a great deal of the difficulties I have always faced, but this recognition has yet to change anything for me. I have not made commitments deliberately. I have not deliberately made good on commitments. The indication from others that I must keep writing has only made me succumb to what is easiest and most fulfilling: writing. Under the presumption that someday I shall be “saved” and I will be happy I continued to write.
How can it feel simultaneously that this is a deal with the devil and a matter of following my higher calling?
Truth is, I can’t ignore the muse. I must commit time to both writing and what is practical. It is finding a structure in which both work together that is the most difficult, because the muse refuses to abide by my schedule.