I wrote this introspective little gem a little while ago at a time when the writing was flowing smoothly, my book was just published and I felt on top of the world. Then I found myself eventually collapsing into worries over problems, some of them personal some of them worldly, and eventually the grasp on my panache slipped a little and a finger of uncertainty slipped in. That finger poked and prodded until it opened up a hole which sucked my creative thoughts and trajectory from my brain. I thought it wouldn’t effect me because of my strength, but I devolved into artistic truancy and emotional malaise.
I saw my life for the first time without success and I wondered if it would ever be possible. In fact I even began to fear it, because it would mean I would have to continue and for the first time in my life I couldn’t visualize the story in my head. How can you write other books if you’re bored when you sit down to write? I would be a manager for the rest of my life. I could proceed and I could make decent money at it, but I would be a manager. My traveling would be limited, devoid of scheduling flexibility and every woman I would meet would hate my dedication portrayed through long hours. I saw the road leading down that hill towards the setting sun and I stopped and took a deep breath. The easy road, the one that led down and towards the beautiful sunset was appealing, but then I turned and saw up the mountain and realized that I have not yet proved that I could do it. So I sat down at the computer and I vomited on the keyboard (metaphorically), then I sat down the next day and did it again, and again. Eventually visualization of people and locations materialized and my vocabulary began to return and my heart relaxed. It’s 12:31AM…
The anachronism that is my writing life
It’s 2:44AM. My cat is lying asleep in bed and I’m sitting in front of my computer, my dyspepsia blaring and my eyes blurring. I gaze past the empty Coke cans, from my artist’s model hand to my book of Twilight Zone stories (lit only by the soft glow of the monitor) and wonder what I’m doing. Why am I awake? Why did I drink that Coke at 2:00AM? Why cant I slow my mind down and just relax? Why do I force this on myself?
In my day job I manage a bookstore. I have 45 employees and I’m a corporate whore. My daytime language is all business parlance. Learning Plans. Store Manager Action Plans. Business Acumen. Performance Management. I stride through the store giving my direct reports thier priorities for the day. I look at the employees and I contemplate thier personalities and thier strengths and I fit them into little boxes on my succession map.
When I’m home and alone, I’m in front of the computer creating lives. Specific personality attributes collide in my head and I see a character. I see them in a snapshot or a Polaroid, if you please. I see men and women as they are, without thier protective shells. I hear thier voices and read thier thoughts. There’s a man sitting in a room. The room is dark and he’s alone. There is a small crease in his brow, indicating consternation. The room is spartan with only one book lying on the floor behind the simple wooden chair he’s sitting in. That book is “The Bell Jar.” Do you know what he’s thinking? That’s the greatest part about writing. You can layer on infinite articles or events and you’re the only one who knows what’s happening.
So why do I deal with Corporate Initiatives, Selling Culture and SMART Goals while burning my nights in front of the computer in a portentious insomniatic glaze? I love the romanticism of it. The glorification of the struggling artist. My office is covered in books, tomes of introspection, entertainment and knowledge and as I look around I feel both solace and restlessness. I want more. I want to know more. I want people to know that if you need to know something Sean’s the one to ask. When people think of me I want them to think of me as a writer erudite enough to facilitate that other life. So why do I push myself to odd hours and split my attentions to the point where I’m spead thin, when I can imagine other people and every possible outcome of their situation? The answer is; I cant help myself. My brain wont stop. When a new challange presents itself I have to take it, just to prove to myself that I can do it (and maybe everyone else in the process). I’m going to make it. I’m going to facilitate my desires. I can adapt and succeed on my own terms and I can live the American Dream.
I’m going to give you another of the Bowling Alley poems, since you have another week of Another Ace in the Hole coming in Podcast. This one has gone through many lives and currently lives under the name of “Trailer Park Lullaby”, but I think that might be a little pejorative, a little more than I mean to at least. It was once (and maybe when it was at it’s best) “Sullen, but not quite repentant” and the reason that I brought it back here was because It’s my battle cry. This poem is for the dreamers and the hopeful who see no hope; to the romantic and faithful, who are without love.
Sullen, but not quite repentant
What men do for promise of Home?
The dogs of factories,
The slaves and drones
That live their lives in bars
Taking hoppy medicine
That drowns reality
Where believing in yourself is a Dream.
Where reality is a
Sore that wont heal.
Where substance takes precedence
and Joy is the difference
between the insane and the abstract
Words like Queer, Kike, and Nigger
That world deranged into
Black and white.
Intelligence means you know pop culture
You win at Trivial Pursuit .
Where life is derision,
What is solace? A woman’s touch?
Pedantic fantasies of love and submission?
Where priests are pederasts
and Presidents are puppets.
Where Solace lives in a
Bottle, or a
Pipe, or a
Line on a mirror, or a
What is life
But a series of mistakes?
Leading to an ultimate
Derangement of consistency.
To be laid in a hole, to feel Peace?
The power of the brain is punultimate
only to the passion of the Heart.
To live, to dream, to die,
The arrows of fortune
Are diligently avoided
And Powerfully Presuaded to
Destroy the weak;
The Deranged powerful
For the truth lay
in the heart and mind.
The power conjoined,
The passion omnipotent,
The opposition like
A lone bowling pin awaiting
Money is money and power is power,
but Hubris is the contagion
that destroys worlds.
Never mind the fragility of personality.
Avarice controls the world and
Destroys passion of the artistic mind
The Glory of civility is a myth.
These are peons who cautiously protect
the King and Queen.
In a cosmic chess game of
Power and verisimilitude.
Life is the game of chance
Will you land on the right square?
Take the right career?
or will there be degredation and repression
in the mines for decimation of the soul?
Words only the fundamentalists
Hols as Gospel.
But precisely what is needed for Life?
Belief in the intrinsic merit of Desire?
And the everlasting hope of Humanity.
The desire to live your dream.
The frenetic evaluation of the soul.
The life of ones own dream.
Belief and faith in the dream.
Happiness is for fanatics
Like Whitman and Thoreau.
Contentedness is for
Realists and dreamers
Who understand that success,
Comes not from a bottle
Not from a mine or factory,
But from the heart,
Faith and belief in your heart.