I’ve taken a beating lately. Most of us go through periods when we take beatings pretty intensely. I always keep going back to that stupid adage, What doesn’t kill you now makes you stronger, and think how meaningless that is. But I wonder now if it’s not as stupid and cliche as I once thought. I say that because as the beatings continue in one form or another, I am wondering if I will emerge with a consciously different perspective–a different person, so to speak.
In the context of taking a beating as a writer, as we know our personal lives infect our writing–for better or for worse. So when our egos undergo a gang rape, can the true self overcome the bruised ego and help us channel our energy to develop more acutely interesting art? I sure as hell hope so. I mean, the reality of experiencing shitty things is subjective: there are people I know well who are currently experiencing massively worse shit than I have lately. But that’s not the point here. Whether my true self can continue to write and write effectively while my ego whines and bitches and moans about how awful things are is going to ultimately define my future as an artist.
This is the turning point, I guess, right? When the real cliches harken, “This is what separates the men from the boys,” et cetera. Do I give up and pick up knitting, or television, or do I keep on keepin’ on and trudge through this fucking disaster and hope that the words I pump out continue to provide me and others some degree of gratification. Because that’s why we write, right? For gratification in one degree or another?
I listened to a story on NPR about people not quitting despite these horrendous odds. Marathoners and such. And what seemed to be consistent were the spiritual journeys many people experienced when their true selves pushed them to their finish line, rather than succumbing to their egos telling them to stop.
But see, I’m confused. I don’t know yet the distinct voices of my ego and my true self. I’m not even sure I have two distinct voices in there. That’s what is making healing through this mess even harder to deal with: I can’t even trust the voice that keeps telling me to go on, since continuing onward seems to just present more opportunities for failure and pain. Keep writing, and people will keep telling you it’s shit. You’re shit. I’m shit. Maybe they’re shit, but it doesn’t really matter, now that the shit is out there, right?
The rebirth of a writer when a personal revolution like this is occurring can be pivotal–more of you have a better grasp on literary history than I do. The high points can be high, indeed: there are no limits. But that same philosophy can be paralyzing, knowing that all of the choices ahead can be either a minefield or a diamond mine. Or neither.
This isn’t really a question of whether I will continue to write. No doubt I will, despite it all. It’s now a matter of what I put out there for others to read.