Saturday, March 30, 2013 1:54 AM
Oh My God! When I read back some of the crap I’ve written, I could easily puke. There’s something about writing—in trying my hardest to make myself crystal clear, I muddle about worse than if I’d told it plain. But then I re-read my so-called ‘plain speaking’ and I find it full of vacuous nothingness—in avoiding detail and subtlety, I’ve written the equivalent of ‘Life is like an onion’ or some other such fortune-cookie rubbish.
And what indication has the universe given me that what I write is worth the digital disk-space to store—much less a hope that someone else will come round just dying to read it? None whatsoever—trying to kid myself is out of the question—I may not be much of a writer, but I sure as hell know good reading when I read it. In my normal course of reading a book I make allowances for times when I’m not in the mood for that particular story—or not in the mood for reading, as a past-time, generally.
Granted, that was nearly never in my original life. But even then, I’d be sometimes obliged to start a new book, with a different tone or texture than the one I’d not yet finished. Nothing is so well-written that it is always a pleasure to read—even for a dyed-in-the-wool bookworm like ‘me-point-one’ used to be. And now that I’m just slightly living in comparison to those wonderful days, I still enjoy a book—just not without suffering from the sort of neck-cricks and backaches and blurry vision that less-enthusiastic ‘readers’ like to make a point of complaining about.
And this is the problem with writing—even if it’s good (a big if) it still can make my flesh crawl when mine comes at me suddenly. The pomposity, the mawkish pettifogging, the condescension—I sound like a prize jack-ass. And this would be the same bit of writing I had re-read days ago, immediately after writing it, and thinking it superb!
But I am used to this. Does anyone know the worst thing about LSD? It’s the crash. The heady delirium and fascination with all things is replaced with a hollow, worthless reality that is nothing more than what it has always been—the same thing, day after day, year after year. We don’t normally experience the dread stolidity of life—but the LSD, in simulating the altered perceptions and convoluted thought-patterns of a schizophrenic, gives us a glimpse of a world that seems to be hiding behind the ‘same-ol same-old’ of life. It makes us feel exalted and fascinated by all the colors and sounds of the psychedelicized world—we wander like wondering children in a magnificent amusement park.
Then it wears off—and back comes the flat-seeming world we left from. But now it’s shabby, drab, irritating sameness is put into high contrast—it’s almost painful just to exist without the LSD’s magic. That is the worst thing about LSD—it makes reality seem dreary. The funny thing is, that disappointment lasts and lasts—it isn’t a hangover, it isn’t anything—it’s just the world, the way it’s always been—revealed as the grey, unmusical reality that people get hurt in, get sick in, die in, go broke in, and nothing can be done to stop any of it.
No sense of delight I’ve ever gotten from LSD, or any drug, has ever been worth the cost of that crash—the drug wears off, but the crash lingers forever. It is an awareness that behind all our thoughts and feelings and opinions is a world that doesn’t give a damn how we feel or what we believe—it will still gladly mush us like bugs if that’s what’s going on this moment. Good people get punished. Bad people get ahead. Innocent people get hurt and criminals get away with murder. All philosophy evaporates in the presence of hunger or cold or fear. All happiness comes in an instant and is gone before we have the wits to fully realize we are happy.
So I tell myself that I’m too critical of my own writing—that I’m denying myself the same leeway I grant other authors (and, believe me, many an author has taken full advantage of it—the curse of being compulsive about finishing whatever book I’ve started). I tell myself that perception is a shifty bugger, and if I wait until tomorrow I’m just as likely to see some good in the same writing.
So, like all would-be artists, I spend a lot of time listening to my own music, reading my own poems, looking at my own drawings—always asking, “Is it any good? –and if it is, would I be able to tell?” Many of my proudest creations have given me mal de mer from the eternal rising and falling of my opinion of its quality—it’s a good job that I had a habit of giving away all my drawings most of my life—I’d still be checking them every day to see if they looked okay or not. And I’m far too busy listening to my piano recordings to waste time on that. As far as the writing goes, I figure it’s good therapy, like a journal or something, so I should keep it up even if I’m positive that it’s all garbage. And some days, I’m treated to a good opinion of myself for a few hours—I actually enjoy some of my writing on those days.
That still leaves a percentage that I’ll always feel embarrassed to have been the author of—but with those I just tell myself ‘nobody reads my stuff anyway, so no biggie…’ One of the many perks of being an amateur. I don’t know how professionals do it—creativity is such a tightrope—if I had to merge it with making my living, I’d be lost. Plus they have to have patience with the jerks that pay for art—you’d think such people would be gracious patrons of ‘art’, but I gather that’s not quite how it works.
But it’s all conditional—one’s faith, one’s happiness, one’s self-confidence, one’s solvency—they come and go as the wheel of fortune spins. The auction price for a Van Gogh will dip and climb depending on the art market. What started as Matt and Trey making silly, irreverent cartoons has become the toast of Broadway and London—a devastating lampoon of a major faith during which, apparently, no one in the audience can stop laughing. People starve. People text while driving. People grow old. People laugh.
Is it not fitting that our mood should also rise and sink from moment to moment, transforming the jumbled pile of reality as would a kaleidoscope, into seemingly perfect geometries of meaning and fulfillment? Can I ever hope to write down words that would improve the life of any who read them? Or can I only hope to interest myself in that conceit as a means of avoiding my true uselessness? And could I tell the one from the other? Do I want to?
Self criticism is one of the worst to understand.. I agree what you write today that looks good and maybe hilarious (that being the object) tomorrow sound stupid childish and not what the aim was…. I find exactly the same thing with the comedy driven book on Golfers and Green Keepers that I keep trying to finish… 60 000 words down the line.. the only reason I keep going is that others love what I’ve written.. even though I feel differently…
Now the dilemma do you listen to yourself or others??
I find your writing, style, explanations etc absolutely fascinating hilarious and so well written. Now who has the better opinion of what you write.?? Me or you..
I’ve been following you now from SA to your blog here.. your music and all, and I find your writing outstanding, and should you ever put out a book I would definitely buy it. Why? ’cause I like your style content and it’s good reading…
So now one must decide, do you write what you want to read? or what might appeal to the reader who chances are has never met you?
I think the latter is the answer.. with the millions of people out there that still read books, if just a mere.1 % purchased your book it would be a 1 000 000 copy seller.. and if you write what you want to read, shit it might just be you that buys it…
I think you under estimate your potential readership…
I remember you SA articles well, in the beginning your comments were few and far between because people found your writing intimidating.. they were too scared to take you on as your intellect comes across in your writing and most authors on SA are like me, novices trying to improve their penmanship.. and when you read an article like you penned, it was intimidating. Why did I comment? Simple, I felt I could learn from you and wanted to be able to write like you do… now that you should take as a complement.. and apart from that, if you had of given me a short condescending reply.. I’m too thick skinned to let it worry me and would have come on back with a request to converse on the subject… too many of the others were either in awe of your writing (something I believe) or were intimidated beyond words..
Now if that helps you to continue to write and finish a book for publication.. then I’m a happy man.. ’cause I see you as a very successful author mattering not what genre you follow..
Go well friend…
Looked up now and seen I’ve written you a book in answer…
Thanks for your thoughts, Rob–and, while I wanted to keep the post brief I still should have mentioned the many encouraging people whose opinions I respect–it is one of my greatest comforts and shelter from my own self-deprecation.
For me, it replaces the other thing writing is good for–writing a successful best-seller and all that entails–to have the good opinion of actual people, without agendas, and to know that they ‘understand me’ (a silly thing–but that’s my thing, silliness without rancor or practicality of any kind).
So thanks–it means a great deal to me.
I also find your writing, style, explanations etc absolutely fascinating hilarious and so well written, and proudly echo Rob’s sentiments !!
“Can I ever hope to write down words that would improve the life of any who read them?” Well if you really want to find out, Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem A Day Challenge starts tomorrow on April 1 on his blog Poetic Asides !! Here you will find many amazing writers and poets from around the world with similar keen intellect and a passion for writing and poetry!! Post and play here and some of the comments you receive might lead to the answers you seek!! In a worst case scenario you might have some fun, meet some really amazing people, and possibly vindicate your self-doubt!! You believed in me and look how far I’ve come ( for someone whose worst subject was english ) !! I believe in you, take a chance and maybe you will find a path beyond this self-deprecating uselessness nonsense !!
I have always felt extremely proud and honored to call you my friend !! Poem On!
thank you randy–consider me chastened.
I shall poem On!
Happy Easter to Suzy and you (also Passover)
enjoy the spring.
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