Mar 31, 2011

Soul Searching


Big, scary, naked, confessional baring of soul post to follow. Possibly uncomfortable at times.

I've been soul searching lately. Doesn't matter why. I could go into a whole big side tangent on my myriad theories as to why, but in the end, it just doesn't matter. So!

Why am I here?

Well, where is here? Los Angeles.


Another tangent. Let's not focus on Los Angeles. Too big of an idea packed into two small words. Moving on...

Why am I here on this planet?

Maybe if you have kids, you think you're here for them. That's great. Nothing wrong with that answer.

I don't have kids. And I'm getting to that age... Shit another tangent, reel it back in.

What's my purpose?

Do I even have a purpose or is it all just random chaos, in which case, so what, do what you will (an it harm none - to toss in some values there)?

I don't believe in the Bible, religion, etc. That's another tangent.

I'm full of tangents. Maybe that is soul searching; Moving from one tangent to another until something clicks.

Here's the thing: I'm not (really) doing what I came here to do. I stopped doing that seriously awhile ago for a variety of reasons that, again, are too much of a tangent to even get into, but, the result was a departure from my initial goals, accompanied by a misdiagnosis, years of bad reactions to pharmaceuticals, then, ultimately, completely losing my mind during a particularly violent, hallucinogenic, allergic reaction. All of which could be a docu-drama all on its own.

But what it all boils down to is, I had the rug pulled out from under me and was forced to re-examine my life and my goals and I found I was not happy with the direction my life had taken. (Albeit, this epiphany is about 2-2.5 years in the making.)

My first love, before I knew anything about the outside world living in my sheltered farm town, was words. Words. Glorious words!!! Some people like the sound of their own voice saying words. Not me. I like the look of words. I like the feel of pen against paper or ink on the pages of a book. Now, I even love its digital counterpart in the form of the Kindle, which is so much better than any touchscreen tablet or Smartphone, because of the nature of how the actual words are displayed. So organic. But this is not a commercial for Amazon and no one is paying me to write these words. Trust me. I'd be a whole lot happier if they were...

So, words. I love to read them, I love to write them. Sometimes they frustrate the hell out of me, other times they warm my soul like a hot fire on a New England winter's night.

I have stacks of old diaries and poems and short stories. I even wrote a 200+ memoir that I'm still too shy to try and publish again (at least not without a serious copy editor having a go at it first). I've also written and co-written a fair share of screenplays, some of which have been read, others will never see the light of day without first a serious re-write.

And what you are reading, right here, right now, regardless of the time or place or who you are in comparison to me, right now you are reading my words. Isn't that cool? Well, I think that's cool. Regardless...

Everything I'm talking about is past tense. Somewhere along the way I gave up. I have a few ideas why, but I'm not going to write about it now or possibly ever. Who knows. Point is, I ceased to write and to fill the gaping void left within my soul, I turned my attention on that which everyone else created. So, if a friend had a dream, I lent my talents and skills to help him/her achieve success, while completely avoiding it for myself. Safer that way, I guess. I had fun, I'm still having fun. I'm really proud of a bunch of the things I worked on in some way, shape, or form, and I deride great pleasure from seeing friends, family, and those I admire achieving success.

But what is success?

For me, when I was young, it was fame and money, but it has changed since then. Fame scares the crap out of me now and I don't want it at all anymore. No, thank you! Money is nice, of course, but I have no need for great wealth anymore. I just can't be bothered with the thought of how much responsibility comes with massive wealth. I'd be happy to just know my bills are covered, my folks are taken care of, and stuff like being able to travel more often and buy more neat gadgets, but I mean like Google TV not a Jet Plane, y'know?

So, if it's not fame and riches, then what?


I gotta come back to words. Somewhere along the way I got very shy with my words. I lost my confidence. But here's the thing, why? What's there to be or not be confident about? Words are merely thoughts plucked from a mind and put onto paper to be shared with others. If we all thought alike there would be no war, no fighting, no problems... If we all thought alike we would all like everything everyone ever wrote because we'd most likely be writing nearly the exact same thing. So, as a writer, you would never have to worry if readers liked your words or not. You would just know that they did. Boring! Somewhere along the line I got caught up in worry over what people thought of my words, which made me edit my words before I even wrote them. Crazy. So what if the sentence isn't perfect. So what if the grammar is off. So what is there are a few typos, so what if I spelled a word wrong. Godz I'm so sick of caring about being judged. Oh, she misspelled misspelling, she must be dumb! Or just lazy. Whatev.

Not to mention content... Or writing style. I once had an English professor at Boston College tell me the reason he gave me a C on my first paper of the class was because he didn't like my writing style, not because I didn't understand the subject matter, which was Hamlet, which I'd read at least 3 times by then. I dropped the class and the major that day.

In high school, other kids called me weird and said I was cool until I opened my mouth. That shit can scar a person, man. But fuck it. I don't fucking care anymore. I'm not a kid anymore. No one else's opinion of me is going to alter or affect my life in any way, shape, or form.

I guess what I'm aiming at here is...

I've spent the past few years assisting other creative types either on purpose or by sheer coincidence to turn their dreams into reality at the risk of my own.

I think it's time I stop doing that. I think it's time to let other people's projects just be other people's projects. I can just sit back and appreciate them when they are done.

I need to get back to me and why I'm here and what the hell I'm doing with my life. In a way, I wish I could be happy at a 9 to 5. It seems like it would just be so much god damn easier, y'know? But I'm just not built that way, I tried and I tried again; it's not my calling.

My calling is words.

I have been working on a project for, I guess, a year now. It's been slow going, but I wanted to really research the heck out of it first. I didn't want to half-ass it and still don't, but I kind of feel like I am half-assing it because I spend so much time working on other people's projects. Well, I need to stop that. No more new projects. No getting all tempted by Terra Naomi's post seeking someone with web skills for a new project. No! No offering any more help to anyone else, at least for awhile...

It's gonna be hard. I'm kind of addicted to helping people creatively. And I still have a couple projects on the table that I can't quite shelve yet. I'll see those through to the end, but no more new ones.

Also, no more feeling guilty about not helping other people or working on other people's projects while I work on my own. I can't explain it, I don't know why, but when I spend an entire day writing, I end up feeling incredibly guilty for ignoring the rest of the world and their problems and needs.

Screw 'em.

I gotta do this for me.

I should also probably spend less time checking into Facebook & Twitter, it's another perfect distraction for people who like words and self expression, damnit. But, again, I'm pretty addicted and being a writer is pretty lonely and my family and a lot of my friends all live in other states (or countries!)... I'm full of excuses, heh heh. Maybe instead just limit it to certain times per day or something.

I'm getting nit-picky now and that's not the point. I didn't really want this to be about details, rather large strokes.

Epiphany --> Change Life Course

As simple as that.

I was just going to write that I don't know why I felt compelled to make this a blog post, but it makes sense. Words, words, words. Self expression.

So, now to put this on blogger, maybe post a tweet about it, then forget it, go outside, enjoy the sun, maybe tidy later, remove more distractions, pack away that teach yourself PHP book, and figure out a good daily writing routine, so I can re-begin my journey via words. But this time... it's personal. (I don't know where that came from, what I really mean is, I have been writing, but sporadically, when it should be every day.)

I don't think I'm even going to bother trying to sell my necklaces. Every little thing just takes so much focus and concentration and time and hard work and effort that you can't be a graphic designer, jewelry maker, & writer all at the same time successfully. I'll save the other two for hobbies...when I need a break from words.

Yes, I know I may never "make it" as a writer, but I've been miserable the years I've given up, and I've been happy the years I've been writing whether anybody liked what I wrote or not. Moreover, the years I haven't written I've had more money, and the years I have written I've had less, but you know what, I was still happier poor and writing.

Special Note: Thanks for sparking the flame, Lloyd. I may write another book yet! But first to finish this damn screenplay if it kills me.


Unknown said...

I commend you on your ability to recognize that whatever you are exerting energy on is not working for you. People go there whole lives without thinking twice about why they are doing what they are doing.

I could get all corny and say follow your dreams -- but I won't because you already know that.

As an English professor, I was appalled to read about your experience in college. Shame on that professor! As an educator, it is your job to inspire -- not destroy.

Happy writing!


Melissa St. Hilaire said...

Thanks, Gretchen!!

I had another professor there, in my Film Adaptation class, ask the students, "Who here wants to direct a film?" The whole class raised their hands. "Now, who here wants to be a PA, production assistant?" Most of the class lowered their hands. Maybe 5 kids left. "You should all aspire to be PAs and not directors, as surely none of you will ever be a director and less than half of you will ever even step foot on a real film set."

I wanted to plunge my hand into her chest and rip out her heart Indian Jones style right there!