IMO Thursday – My Most Difficult Job: Writing

The Blissful Adventurer - Michael Housewright

Writer’s Block To-do List

First of all let me apologize for my long summer absence. After my return from Italy and the TBEX bloggers conference I felt truly overloaded. Too much impetus, too fast, and the bug of introspection set itself firmly in my mind.

This is where the difficulty comes in writing dear followers of bliss. I began to allow my introspection into my prose and my poetry. I finally, after many years of holding back began to share with a strange new world the inner workings of my head. I loved the feedback and the give and take. WordPress in many ways was my writers forum, a place to practice a craft and to experiment with style and sharing.
I believed the WP.com community to be a place of safety. At the same time, we all have an audience and a voice our readers are accustomed to hearing. The morose side of TBA was a bit much for some of my readers and a very dear friend and fellow blogger let me know as much.

I would guess that no other blogger has influenced me more than this brilliant person and telling me to get myself together and save my introspection for other venues made me believe that WP was no longer a safe place for experimentation and was simply another tangential world with expectations so lofty I could only post when I was “ON”.

This is where it is dear readers. This is why I have been missing. Yes, I posted a few pieces since that day and I am proud of them. Yet, I no longer felt this was my place of joy, and my outlet for pain was suddenly missing. Yes, I overreacted and took it too literally. I know this. This is I, an entertainer, the one who delivers above expectations and when that becomes impossible to achieve 100% of the time I am the one who collapses into self-doubt and disappointment.

I know my work is good and sometimes excellent. I know I see things in ways that are unique. I know I have talent in every pore of me and at the same time I am completely prone to freezing, to fleeing, and to failing.

Every prior job in life before writing allowed me room to coast. I could achieve and then rest, regroup, and begin a new project. Writing is not about coasting to me, and I had found it about the journey. My experimentation and the responses from readers made me so happy and gave me insight into not only my style, it elucidated my dreams.

Now hear me friends. Do not dismiss my fellow blogger as being too brazen or envious or anything other than the loving person I have come to adore. It is me that is the issue here. I take criticism badly, I always have. Typically this is because I am more critical of myself than anyone is of me so it tends to add insult to injury. In this case, I think my friend was right about me finding some direction but wrong about curbing my need to share in this public forum.

I know we are public figures and we are perceived in ways that our words, images, and style dictate. I get it, and at the same time I have spent most of my life trying to model the big brother, the eldest son, the doting husband, and the excellent student. Here, I want a safe space to be just a writer with hopes that what I create will express myself artistically. Is this the space? For the past 2 months I have questioned my very existence. I have wondered if I should go back to wine full-time. I have wondered whether or not I am cut out to be a writer. Each of those questions was met with nausea, anger, and frustration I had not really known previously. My distinguished mentor says in regards to the path of life,

“You enter the forest
at the darkest point,
where there is no path.

Where there is a way or path,
it is someone else’s path.

You are not on your own path.

If you follow someone else’s way,
you are not going to realize
your potential.”

In these two months I have come to realize I have no choice, God, the universe, fate, and my sanity have all convened and they will no longer let me run from what I was birthed to this planet to do. I have strong opinions and I am certain that the world would be deeper in darkness had no one had the conviction to share thoughts that were antithetical to common beliefs. I have often in my life followed the counsel of others and it has led me to victory and defeat with a level of parity akin to coin tossing. The surest best advice I have ever received is that which aligns itself with the intentions of my heart. This happened to me this morning when one of the most respected bloggers I know found me on Facebook (a favorite hiding place) and let me know her thoughts and those words  spoke directly to every part of my being.

Yes, this is a romantic notion and I am a romantic person. I do my best to balance the Quixotic with the nihilistic as both are extreme. This is why I create. Why I cry at the works of Still, Hemingway, and Sorkin. These artists marry the abstract to the real and demonstrate the beautiful absurdity of life in the most serious of moments. The sharks may eat away my big fish but I will continue to go out in the deep water and haul in another one. This must be my safe space. This was the place that I felt in love with life for the first time in years and I know it remains so. I am the only thing that has changed and now I know I can and MUST return.

This is my most difficult job because this is one I cannot quit. I have tried for the past 2 months and most of the previous 40 years to do it and yet it continues to pull me once again into the fray.

I will not go gently into that good night or unto the breach in any capacity other than as a writer of things that matter to me. Will it resonate with all of you? Sometimes yes, sometimes it will be Beethoven’s 5th loved by all. Sometimes it will appeal like Romeo and Juliet to a crowd from every avenue of life. Perhaps it will be set to music like Westside Story. However, sometimes it will be Hudson Hawk, Harlem Nights, or Pericles. My work may sometimes be Salieri with Mozart laughing from afar. Sometimes I will be Ahab and the game will be my undoing. The Academic and the base will argue my merits only sometimes, while mostly they will go ignored with only the cognoscenti and compatriot spirits in praise of something perhaps a bit obtuse or sickeningly self serving.

I do not see life in shades of banality. I see verve and zest, and more silly words that we use to describe the moments when mundane is all around us, yet simply not an option. I am happiest in the company of words and the musical way in which they line up and drizzle off my images forming a world that I devise. I cannot quit something in which I am the integral component. In essence, I am a tree of my own planting. I knew as a child playing dominoes with Odie and making up stories on cassette recorders that I was wired to share. Eat or do not of this fruit my friends. My guess is that many of you wrestle with these self-same maladies. I am grateful for the criticism and the love. I have passed another grueling test and here I am once again at the helm in this ocean of words.

This was the summer of my discontent and I return from this anew today. Stay tuned for what comes over the hill, as it may be a snowball headed for hell and coming aboard is far better than being at the bottom.

 

Comments

  1. says

    I've been on a late summer blogging break, but saw your latest post in my email inbox. I read it twice to make sure I understood the whole picture. I think the problem here is that you have a wealth of talents, and writing is the umbrella that covers all of them. One of your gifts is a warmth that makes people feel like they've known you forever, making for easy banter on the comment pages. Your posts are full of joy and humor, and your travel stories are nothing short of brilliant. I think confusion might arise for some people when their affable friend and adventurer takes a sudden turn and spins a dark tale, wondering if it's fact or fantasy. Personally, I love it. There are so few truly consistently interesting and entertaining, ha mine included, blogs out there, that your absence leaves a giant void. Please continue on. Welcome the input, encouragement or criticism. Sift through it and take what you like, just don't let any bad stuff get you down.

    Fondly,

    Elisa

    • Michael Housewright says

      Just in case you did not see my response on the other site and for those that read only on this one :-)Where to begin Elisa? What a thoughtful and flattering response! I agree with you on taking what comes and that will only grow (hopefully) as I release a book and the critics come out of the woodwork. I want to clarify that I actually believed a lot of what this critic said and that I may have been coasting a bit lacking motivation. It is a challenge in tough financial times to justify this career choice and my guilt over that often rears itself at inopportune times. It is support from my wife, family, and readers like you that keep me moving forward. I am this guy that loves to chat and is affable almost to a fault. I am also a bit morose with a macabre sense of humor wrestling with what I can or more aptly should say. I must appeal to both audiences because I believe I am not alone. Like you, I want to see both. The best art elucidates reality and in doing so rises above mediocrity in its depiction of mediocrity. This is how I see the planet. Tremendous joy rarely comes without the knowledge of abject misery. The Blissful Adventure is witnessing life in all its imperfections making the journey honestly; perfect.

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