The School of Fucking Up

I’ve been internally celebrating something I like to call The End of Fucking Up for about a week. Ironically, it’s coincided with more fucking up. Que sera sera, like the man sings.

Mistakes happen. That’s life. Growing from them, that’s smart. Repeating them, that’s dumb. I don’t tend to repeat mistakes. I may attempt, you know, a variation on a theme, as it were, but seldom do I duplicate it flat-out.

Turns out technique is everything.

From May of last year to June of this year, it’s been sort of The Lost Year for me. It’s been a time of being unsure of what I really wanted from life, and understanding that I wouldn’t get where I needed to go unless I could at least put a name and voice to that wish.

Mm-kay. Explain, please?

I think most of us are raised with the “find something you can live with doing” mentality about getting a job. You know, do what it takes to get by, and that’s that.

I wasn’t raised with the notion that dreams came true for everyone. I was taught you picked a career you were suited for, that you didn’t suit up for dreams. I wasn’t taught to pursue whatever I wanted because I “had” what it took — it was implied luck played more than hard work sometimes did. Confidence wasn’t a big thing in my household, for any of us.

And that sucks, but I’m far from the exception in that upbringing. Most of us were raised with the belief that we’d have a career, we’d have a house, and somewhere in there would be life, and it’d look a lot like the “life” other people had, too.

The older I get, the more I realize I can’t do the square-peg-square-hole-equals-career thingie.

I can’t just do the “it’s a job, it pays the rent” dealio. I’ve been trying on different writerly “hats” to see what feels right and the answer has been none of them, not really, not yet.

Stupid is As Stupid Does

From writing to life, the last year, for its scores of challenges, has probably been the hardest but also the most educational I’ve lived. There are lessons I’ve learned in the recent months that I hope I never forget, things I’m stunned I never really understood before now.

I believe there are eras that profoundly shape who we are — months or years that are somewhat like a crash course in self, and I think the last 18 months have been one of the most profound life-lesson times I’ve ever endured. Filled with events that may have reshaped the eyes I’ll see my years through.

Only now am I beginning to catch my breath enough to really go “Wow” at everything I’ve had go down in the last year, probably 70% of it or more I’ve never put anywhere on this blog, Twitter, or anyplace online. Ain’t for you to know.

But I went through my email yesterday, deleting thousands of things on my mission to Inbox: Almost Zero (read: 6).

It was kind of like a click-by-click visit of everything that came my way over that time.

You know what else it was, though?

As I saw all my original sent emails, I remembered the emotions I had, but hid, when I had sent the mail. I remember often being less than earnest, saying what I thought should be said.

Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

It’s funny. It’s almost like the biggest lesson of the year was pretty simple: The heart wants what the heart wants, and trying the old switcheroo to get the heart to settle, that just ain’t gonna work. Lie to yourself, lie to others, doesn’t matter — the truth wins the end, the heart wants what it wants.

What my heart wants is to write the book that I just can’t fucking figure out. That’s what it wants. I’ve been making progress lately, after having back-burnered it for the job search. I know sort of what I want to accomplish, and with what, but I don’t know how to do it. I’ve made a  progress on the subject matter, and now the plotting begins on that front, but the structure… Hoo. That’s the doozy. And the voice.

I think there are a few books to read that might give me ideas. In the meantime, I’m just doing background writing in the hopes that’ll help me figure out the structure I’m so confused about.

When it comes to movies, it’s people like Tarantino, Terry Gilliam, Doug Liman’s Go, Baz Luhrman, and others who really capture the way I like a story to be told — so the reader/viewer has to work for it. Stylized. In writing, that’s harder to do without coming off a complete wanker.

The trouble with having written non-fiction and opinion for so long too — another “learning fuckup” — is that I really don’t know who I am, fiction-writing-wise. I was sort of getting somewhere in the late-’90s but stopped on that journey. I have a good idea.

This fall and winter, I’m really looking forward to exploring new writing and new avenues. I’ll be writing a lot more, but I doubt this blog will see a lot of that.

Necessity is the mother of invention they say, and I guess in times of necessity we can invent too much inauthenticity for ourselves, but in stripping away so much of the clutter we can’t afford or haven’t time to contend with, we also rediscover ourselves at our most basic. It’s a paradox of discovery.

And now I’m somewhere in the muddled middle as the dust settles. May I live in interesting times, indeed.