I had an interesting conversation a few weeks ago that has made me think a bit as time goes on. I was out drinking at a bar in SF and it was reaching the end of the night after a festive occasion. I wasn’t overly drunk, but I had consumed a fair amount of wine over the length of the evening, so I was not perhaps in the best of conversational and intellectually reflective form. The person I was speaking to was kind of grilling me as to why it is that I am a capable writer, but I do not seem to have any ambition to do anything with it. I blathered on a bit about my blog and about how I’d made a choice long ago to simply write for the love and heck of it, not for profit, and furthermore that I have little attention span nor dedication to writing cohesive pieces, etc, but I have to admit that I do not feel like my answers really addressed what she was attempting to get to the heart of.
Now look, I was flattered, first and foremost, that anyone would even give two shits about whether I can write or not. And I was flattered that someone would have the empathy and zeal to even bother to press me on the issue. But I was also somewhat taken aback, as I am not accustomed to having to defend myself on the choices that I make that determine my life’s path. But before I could talk my way any further into any insight on the matter, the bar was closing and it was time to go.
I think I realized, as the conversation ended, that I wished that it could continue and that I could really explain my thought process and life decisions in a way that would convince ME. But I also realized that the reality is that truly having that level of conversation, reflecting about oneself and one’s passions and life decisions, is just a bit too narcissistic to really occur anywhere other than in a therapist’s office. Or, well, on a blog. Oh yes, my friends, self-therapy is unfortunately sometimes and all too often the name of the game here on Manderson’s Bubble.
I mean, I don’t have any illusions of grandeur. I generally get around 100 recorded hits a day, with the majority of those hits consisting of people doing searches for guns and ending up on my post about my grandfather’s gun collection. Which is definitely not the post that I would care to be remembered by, though it’s nice to know that it might be interesting to people doing research like I was doing.
But I do know that I can be a competent writer, when I apply myself to it. I’ve helped people to edit professional writings and academic essays, and I’ve been penning my bullshit onto this blog for some time now, of course. But what of it? Lots of people are competent writers, and they are out there making a living out of it.
I made a declaration long ago that I didn’t want to write to be published. And the more I tried to defend that long ago decision in that somewhat drunken conversation, the more I realized just how much of that decision could be attributed to the low self-esteem and angry alienation that I was going through at that time in my life. I’ve never really questioned that choice I made, but I have always wanted to write in some capacity, and so the only way I’ve found that I could keep positive and excited about writing was to share it with my friends. So in college, I started an e-mail list, and I would write almost daily prose/poetry pieces that I would then e-mail to people (some of which you can view under the category Pre-Blog Missives). And then later, I started a blog, because it seemed to make better sense to give people a choice as to whether they wanted to bother reading my shit or not, instead of stuffing it into their inboxes. And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Just writing to share with friends.
But what is this impulse to share my writing with you really about? Isn’t it at heart a desire to be recognized? Why shouldn’t this desire be translated into a project, into a book, into a career?
These are the questions that were raised in my mind. I want to take a moment to stress that I am not expressing regret for any of my life decisions in terms of career, academics, or otherwise. I am happy to have taken the path that I have chosen, and I am extremely excited, currently, to become a teacher. But neither does my current trajectory negate any future potential for taking my writing to another level. And perhaps at the bottom of it all, no matter how I may declaim about how I like my writing to be imperfect and mundane and blah blah blah, perhaps I really do want to take my writing to another level, and I’ve just been too scared or too lazy to really take it there.
Deep thoughts, folks, that I will end this post upon. Whatever the case, thank you for stopping by occasionally and enduring such indulgent and amateurish writing. Will I ever attempt to write something more cohesive and profound? Time will only tell.