D. Paul Angel
I am a struggling writer. It says so much, and yet so little. Would that I could claim the credit so often associated with this, that of banging away on an old typewriter with pages strewn across an already cluttered kitchen table with blue, Bic pens abounding near empties of White-Out fluid, all whilst beautiful fountain pens remain untouched in their felt lined cases; coffee mugs and shot glasses vie for attention in the sink and the power being cut days before doesn’t really matter since there’s only mustard left in the fridge anyways!
Alas, such is not my case, however romantic it may appear on paper (or not). No, I am struggling writer in that I struggle to write. Or is it that I struggle to write? Either way, the important thing is that I’m using italics as a tool to convey greater depth. This is clearly an indication of a classy establishment since multiple font types are strewn about like so many similes at a metaphor party; not that I get invited to metaphor parties, of course, but I have gotten literally a million invites to next week’s Hyperbole Extravaganza and Ice Cream Social.
The point being, well, the point being that we’re already a couple hundred words in and you still don’t know shit about me. So, it turns out that I am pretty good at deflection, and rather bad at talking about myself. I’ve spent the last 15 years in the legal profession, so I am fully versed in any and all forms of verbal dissembling. I don’t use them professionally, mind, but I have all too often witnessed their effectiveness.
Which is why, frankly, that I am here. I am 43 now, and I am just starting to get a the hang of this life thing. You are offered countless decisions in life, and while I have made some very good ones, I have also made some very, very bad ones. Usually out of fear. It turns out that fear is actually a horrible metric when it comes to decisions, and I am working my way out through some of labyrinth that my fear has built.
I have some to find that creativity only comes through courage. If you are afraid of rejection, then you will either self-sabotage yourself to where you never finish anything, or your work will be the bland stuff of safe, forgettable tropes. To create, to truly CREATE, means to expose yourself to the world, and to your views, your insights, your perception, your very person; to be made vulnerable in expressing all the things that make you, YOU.
Its been a hard step for me to take. There are a few creative types who never need wonder where their paycheck will come, but they are the .01% of the creative world. Most of the Artists I know, whether writers, actors, musicians, painters, or anything else inherently creative, live in a state of perpetual flux. They may not know when their next gig or commission or advance will come until they spend their very last dollar.
But, they create nonetheless.
They do so because it is beyond their ken to not create. Given a choice between breathing or creating and they will ask how long they have to hold their breathe. Give them a choice between a billion dollars and never being artistic again and almost all will choose their art. (Although, there is a joke to be made about the former taking the money but still making movies!) I am deeply respective of artists such as these, because every day for them is a step into the abyss. Every day is a leap into new worlds of the unknown. And, I am deeply respective of them because I have yet to muster the courage to take that step into the unknown.
I’m sure almost all of you have seen Firefly, and I am guessing most of you are fans. Even if you didn’t necessarily enjoy the show, I imagine you would have to at least give respect, grudging or otherwise, to the actor’s performances. To mix a sports metaphor into acting, they left everything on the stage every single week. I think mostly because they honestly thought that each week would be their last. So why hold anything back? This, in the formulaic land of TV, epitomizes my point: when every step may be your last, you make damn sure it’s a good one!
So. Back to me. I have had a good career in the legal field. I am not a lawyer, but I have assisted them directly in many, many trials, dating back to the turn of the century (I love being able to say that!). I am actually very good at what I do, and for the most part I really enjoy it. I have even been able to help keep the capital “J” in Justice, which is as good of a feeling as there is. In fact I am still doing it every day, and I still try to do things better than I did the day before. I work with great, amazing people; and I am surrounded by a huge swath of divergent views, almost all of which are supported with intellect and eloquence. It is, as they say, a great gig. I have a career I don’t just understand, but one which I grok.
And yet throughout my entire career I’ve talked about “writing on the side” or “becoming a writer someday,” and many other such dreams, because as awesome as what I do is, it is not what is in my core. Or, perhaps, it simply no longer is. The difficulty is that it is not safe. At all. I was raised to make the safe decision, to do things safely, to think in terms of security. So I am fighting 4 odd decades of habits in trying to reformulate who I am. That, my friends, makes for a lot of re-learning!
While I am trying to relearn these behaviors and reboot my life, there are three large obstacles that I need to overcome. Finances, of course. For a myriad of reasons, I can not enter this new realm burdened with my current debt. It is far too restrictive of a weight. I will, however, beat it soon enough. Time, and discipline, are the key. I am also woefully unprepared to embark on this journey with the skills I currently have. I am not so naive to think that I will simply pick them up along the way. There are already enough skills I know I will have to pick up along the path, but I will need a foundation with which to do so. I am still working on that foundation. The comic above, I think, illustrates this perfectly. Finally, I need a direction. My path keeps flitting here and there with only the knowledge that I want to go that way remaining constant. There are more paths going that way though than I can count, and I don’t know enough yet to one which one to take. Time, however will tell.
My challenge then, is simple: overcome these 3 obstacles and change who I am! And you, dear reader, are invited along for the ride. I shall try to make it pleasant as I can for the both of us 🙂