Back on the Chain Gang

I’ve once again fallen out of the habit of writing.  Not as bad as the last time when the GS front page went dead, but I feel the same sort of gears locking up again…

There are a thousand reasons why.  Too much work, too many distractions (Hello Farmville!) and I continually blame getting into publishing as the great Creativity Killer.  When I do hit a rare patch of spare time, working with words is pretty far from my desires.

Spare time is tough, though.  Because publishing doesn’t pay, it becomes this weird life-consuming hobby.  All the work is done once I get home, late into the night, first thing in the morning, on holidays, and while on vacation.  Meanwhile, I work six (and sometimes seven) days a week at my normal wage slave jobs in the hopes of funding my addiction to printing highly literate works of fiction read only by a handful of lonely souls.

By design, my two main wage-earner jobs are idiotic, at best.  I’m not missed when I take six weeks off, nobody knows who I am or what I do, and I pretty much float through the day without ever firing a synapse.  At first, this was necessary to get all the publishing work down while on someone else’s clock.  But the tedium starts to drag after a while.  What was meant to facilitate my hobbies and my writing has begun to impede it.

But, in the end, all that is just a cowardly, cheap excuse.  I’m not writing because I’m lazy.  Simple enough.  I seek out distractions, I embrace the doldrums.

I’ve recently been inspired to take some time and re-evaluate my life.  All part of the long goddamned healing process that began in April 07 with my miracle brain surgery.  Living pain free is more difficult than living in pain.  It’s not easy at all, and that’s largely because life itself is not easy.  Now I have to face my life, make decisions, and work with the consequences.  Nothing new to the people reading this, but very new to me.  I’ve been in pain, and behind the wall of the pain (and the pharmaceutical treatment), my entire adult life.  I never learned to shave properly.  I never learned how to kiss a woman or make love to her.  I never learned how to take the bull of life by the horns and ride it out.  Everything was sheltered – a quarter or more of each year spent as an invalid.  Every day, from 2000 onward, spent in a dizzy drug haze.  Unable and unwilling to communicate with anyone, I drifted by every checkpoint.  I survived only because I was on auto-pilot.

Now, quite literally, I’ve woken up from a long, deep sleep that started when I was 21.  Now I face the world at 35 as a healthy, functional adult and am able to recognize how much I’ve lost.  The number one distraction is not Farmville, sadly.  It’s an avalanche of anger and resentment.  A burning hatred for the apparent act of god that brought on the pain, and the former friends and lovers who did not tolerate me during those long hard years.  I shouldn’t expect people to understand, but I hung with bad folks.  People who took advantage of the pain, who robbed me of money and time and effort.  Being a social invalid addled on drugs meant that I attracted the worst types of people.

On the flipside of that coin are the friends who stuck by me.  It’s with them where I begin my naval-gazing.  The people who muscled through those years, and who supported me.  The ones still standing with me today.  Their love and friendship is the foundation from which I need to build up defenses against the anger.

I made a list.  Like Bill Mason in Day of the Triffids, I like lists.    I enjoy crossing things off.  The sense of completion.  This list was about changing my life, and all the big shit at the top is tied to my fucking publishing debt.  The losses built over the last four years.  I don’t really regret getting into debt, but it sure has put the kibosh on my fluidity.  At best, it’ll be two years before I see the shoreline.  Then another year building resources so I can return to traveling, work less, and not run in circles screaming at the end of each month.

So…fuck that part of the list.  I focused on the stuff I can improve right now.  The short list of daily things I should be doing.  At the top of that section is writing.   Writing has been my only channel for the anger, the pain, frustration, and dreams.  A sad, insular voice that chatters constantly in the back of my mind.  When I’m not writing, I’m quietly going insane.  This is nothing new.  It’s the reason Greatsociety was born in April of 2001, and the reason it’s still here long past its original shelf life.  Though, thanks to fresh faces and new voices, it’s been repackaged a few times.

Despite that repackaging, the original mission remains the same.  To try and give me a reason to write, forcing me to attempt to craft my drivel with an audience in mind.  That’s the most vital part of writing – capturing the audience.  Luckily for me, I don’t care if the audience is largely imaginary.  It’s all academic.  Diary writing is fine for channeling anger, but writing for an audience forces the writer to think about structure and form and, through that, ease the anger (or the compulsion) a little bit.  Create a purpose.  Writing is also about having realistic goals.

A novel, I know, is not a realistic goal for me.  In a world of self-created distractions, I need to keep writing short form stuff.  One off articles for GS are perfect.

I find myself wanting to write longer stuff, though.  Just to step up to the plate and take the challenge.  That, then, has translated to a new plan for the page.  Or, more specifically, a new regular section.  I’ve decided to try my hand at short stories.  Ten to twenty thousand words.  What used to be called “novelettes” by the type of editors that made you want to lunge across the desk and bite their faces.  I’ve nearly finished the first, and will serialize it on Tuesdays starting October 6th.  The goal will be a new one each month or so.  Just blindly push forward until I work this particular demon out of my system.

The one off stuff will continue and everything else will be the same.

Since I’ve set the standards lower than Hades, courtesy of the Boble and my lousy novel, I’m going to post these short stories regardless of quality.  They’ll be one huge experiment – exploring characters intended for larger works, attempting new forms and styles, and essentially learning how to write all over again.  Learning how to write without the demon of pain riddling through my brain.  Learning how to write from a point in my life where, in the end, everything is okay.  Where the drive, the focus, and the goals have all radically changed thanks to a few hours with a skilled surgeon.