Since I’ve been talking about when I was twenty-eight, I’d thought I’d talk about my writing back then.
I wish I could say I wrote a lot more than I did but back then, I didn’t write under stress. Why? You guessed it- I was afraid of what ‘people’ would think if they knew I was pounding the keys or scribbling on paper instead of doing something else. I wish I hadn’t been so damned worried about ‘people’ back then but as you’ll find out with this book and the other two in the non-fiction triumvirate from Hell, I was genuinely afraid of people using my writing, or pretty much anything they could to fuck my life up.
Now after my mother died I had some time to myself and in one week as part of a challenge, I wrote about a hundred and ten pages (sorry I can’t remember the exact number). It felt so damn good because it was just me sitting and writing. There were no demands on my time, and I just wrote without doing any edits along the way, which is the best way to get a first draft out. I hope to repeat this experience some day because it was a righteous high. Yet other than my writer-friends at the time, I didn’t tell anyone else what I’d done (not even my dad, but that’s a story for another time and place).
Back then, I wanted to write just as badly as I ever have before or since then. Yet back then, I felt like I was living in a way where everyone’s eyes were on me. It’s been hard to work through the fact that no one’s eyes were on me at all, at least not enough to police my every action, thought, and feeling. In retrospect, I was more like a turd that people stepped in, then they chewed me out because I was just a lump of flesh to spew crap onto. Yes, I’m saying people back then just spewed crap on me because they weren’t willing or able to deal with their own feelings. But back then, that realization was a million light years from me, so I hid my writing like I hid everything else about myself.
I will say my writing back then wasn’t at the caliber it is now but that’s just time and experience sharpening my skills. But I was writing good stuff back then and I think if I had put in the work, I could have written something that could get published. Back then the publishing landscape was very different (digital was just getting started and Amazon Kindle was still a few years off) but I think that if I had started small I could have made something of myself.
Over the years, I’ve wondered how I would have handled any kind of success and now I’ll say the best way I could. I mean, there are things you shouldn’t do but no one is perfect and demanding perfection or thinking it’s possible is total fucking bullshit. I tell myself you handle things the best you can with what you have to work with at the time. Back then, I would have been very modest and probably tried to downplay it a lot because sooner or later, someone might have said something nasty or stupid and sadly, I would have taken that way too personally and beat the crap out of myself over it.
I’ve wondered if not wanting to deal with people’s potential crap kept me from pushing myself writing-wise as much as I could have back then. I think there was a possibility that if I had any success some people would have thought I’d leave everyone behind. I would NEVER have done that, but I honestly think that was something people in my life back then thought but wouldn’t have said out loud. Good thing that’s over and done with, and also if anyone says any stupid shit about any success now or in the future, I’d honestly go, ‘what the ever-loving fuck?’
Here’s some advice from my present-self from my past-self:
Write whenever you want to (after taking care of your responsibilities but not being at everyone’s beck-and-call or thinking that you have to be).
Write whatever you want to (follow through on a project and get it out into the world and if anyone poo-poo’s that, fling that shit back at them)
Keep writing, especially in hard and stressful times. Writing is good therapy in addition to being cheap and easy to do (and yes, if anyone has an issue with that, just ask them, “What part of ‘fuck off’ don’t you understand?”)
Most of all, when you’ve done something significant like I did twenty-eight years ago when I banged out a hundred-plus pages in one week, believe in yourself and that you can do it again (and again).