I’m not sure I ever intended to be where I was a couple of years ago. I could play the blame game – there was enough to go around but the tough times I was experiencing were largely brought upon myself. But that is not what this blog is about, anyway.
I’ve overcome a lot in the past couple of years. Some of it I did alone but for my basic surviving and needs I have to thank others, particularly my family. You see, I’ve been basically homeless for nearly two years – since my eviction. I’d be couch surfing had it not been for family support.
Artists go through period like I’ve just been through. It’s nothing new. It was a strain on my relatives, though. I’m sorry for what I put everyone else through but not for the way things turned out. I am confident that had I continued in the way I was going a little more than two years ago I would be dead by now. I have far too many stories I need to complete to be about dying. So you see, I didn’t have a choice then or now.
Along the way I applied for other jobs, but i was not willing to go back into a situation similar to what I was before. You see, once the kids were grown and I was divorced, I really didn’t care how much I got paid as long as I could survive on it and continue to write. I have that situation now. It;s not idea but like an situation it;s temporary.
It’s hard for people who don’t write to comprehend living the way I do. I get that. Most people don’t think of what I do as work and, frankly, neither do I. Over the years of working I have learned that it is tedious, stressful and wholly unenjoyable. Although writing can have moments when it is like work in those ways, generally it is a worthwhile experience providing a sense of accomplishment at its end. That has rarely ever happened whenever I worked for someone else.
Also, there’s something to be said about writing as therapy. Most writers will tell you we’re functionally insane on the best of days. We use the escape time that our creativity afford to gain a sense of balance and for me it is a daily battle. I used to drink too much in an effort to cope with the confluence of pressures surrounding me. Working 70 hours a week – if not more – with feet and back hurting so bad afterwards that I could barely walk or sit up in a chair. Alcohol numbed things at least And it also helped me slip into a creative state of mind for a brief while.
I’m not saying that I write better when half lit but I had some highly creative ideas – provided I was able to set them into words that a sober me could read, revise and edit. I played that game for a while. Yet, all along I knew it was incremental suicide. Every drink I took was killing me.
I struggled a lot between 2002 and 2013, the period I will label as ‘between publishers’. I wrote quite a lot of material but never was it good enough for a publisher to pick up. I’ve always been a writer in search of a good editor, though I could never afford to hire one to transform my raw manuscripts into clean works of literature. So, I think when I checked out – quitting my job to write and being forced to scale back on my living expenses – it was purposeful. It eliminated the pressures and it also forced me to quit drinking. Oddly enough, I wrote Fried Windows (In A Light White Sauce) about a month or so into the sober period of my life. What was different about it was the author’s voice I discovered writing it in first person. I had written about the main character, Brent, before but I had never actually tired on his skin to become him and see the world through his eyes.
Since writing Fried Windows I have written a few other new things but mainly I have been revising the older things with fresh sober eyes. Most of what I have written in the past was done in third person, which is fine. I’m just tweaking things, removing redundancies and correcting errors. I am determined to make writing my career, now. This is my life and it’s what I should have been doing all along.