Tuesday, July 7, 2009


There was a period of time in the 1990’s when I was seriously attempting to become a writer. I was attending workshops, and had a writer’s group and mentors helping me. I was writing essay pieces and I had my index cards of places to send out query letters and unsolicited submissions. I was collecting rejection letters in good spirits, realizing that each one meant I was engaged in the process. The highlight of this period was when I had two publications interested in a piece I’d written about being a hippie’s child. I sold it to the Boston Phoenix and got three hundred dollars and one of the happiest days of my life out of the deal. I stopped attempting to write and publish when I convinced myself I had a demon within that would prevent me from doing what I really wanted to do, and If I was ever going to be successful in that area, I would first have to contend with my internal self-squelcher. So I set about to do that. It is almost physically painful to realize that my progress along these lines (over a period of 15 plus years) has produced little more than an unending string of avoidances and distractions. The paper tiger of fears and inhibitions and self-doubts has proven a worthy opponent. Among my faults I can count a hyper analytical introspection. Which means that few of the ironies of my own psychosis escape my awareness. My problems are obvious. It’s the solutions that prove illusive. I have some sort of glass ceiling in my own consciousness, created by me, of course, and all I can seem to manage is to press my face against it and watch my breath fog it up. I fantasize about what it would be like to break through. I can play out various scenarios based on conceptualizations of spiritual and consciousness liberation, enlightenment, awakening, dancing, freedom…, but I don’t really know what it would be like. I am beginning to wonder If I will ever know. Maybe this is as good as it gets. I can’t seem, however, to concede victory to a clump of nebulous fears and superstitions. I keep thinking I am smarter than that. Maybe I have to fight this battle my whole life. Walking away doesn’t seem to work. Pretending it’s not a problem doesn’t work. The older I get the less creative and energetic I seem to be in my approach. I hope that some wisdom from experience will kick in to compensate. But I am not sure. The issue isn’t really writing any more. Now it is more about what I will be doing to make a living. The same paper tiger comes up when I think up some new approach or strategy to change my life. It has a smirk on it’s face, and I have to chuckle myself. “You son of a gun.”

3 comments:

jenX said...

The paper tiger - cover rock - but, truly, it has no teeth. Wishing you courage as you chase your dreams. You will catch them!

John Hayes said...

I'm familiar with a lot of those feelings, & have been fortunate enough to have dealt with them better over the last about 15 years or so than in I did in the first 37ish. It seems to me that one way of relaxing is to realize the "joy is in the journey." I look at my guitar students-- they all think: if I could do "x" then I could really play guitar. I try to get them to realize they already are doing it, & that no matter how proficient you get at something there will always be something more you'll want to develop. This instinct is good in itself, but bad when it leads to dissatisfaction & neglect of one's talents. So, trying to look at life as a process, not a movement toward some destination where I "have it made," whether "it" is spiritually or financially or creatively, etc. really helps.

Randy Watson said...

Thanks John, you are absolutly right about the journey. I know this. And sometimes I live it. but I frequently need to be reminded.