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...over-educated and under-experienced, or so they say...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Exorcising The Specter

I've been in a funk lately. If you "follow" my blog (as if I give you much to follow) you may have figured that already. It doesn't take much to know that long silences from me usually indicate some kind of funk.

This one, I'd have to say, is a bit different. It's based more on some stupid sort of introspection than an external circumstance like potentially leaving my cat in a place called "impending doom."

No, this one has more to do with what actually keeps me from writing -- and not just my blog.

This one I've pondered for quite some time now, and over the past couple of weeks I've engaged in some conversation over it with a couple of friends: one being an artist and the other a musician. We're all in our thirties, and the one sentiment we share at this moment in our lives is a sense of melancholy over what seems to be a loss in our ability to create; the reason being, "life" has set in.

You see, I highly doubt there is a single person on the planet that said, sometime in their childhood, that when they grow up they want to serve as a worker bee in a hive called a cubicle (and I apologize right now to the potential person who did believe pushing paper in a cubicle was the highlight of their existence). I know that the life I'm living right now and the career I've found myself in is far from what I dreamed of doing. And it isn't that I disrespect my company, my current career, or the income that I'm given for the expertise I provide to others (I'm actually very grateful), it's simply that... there's a lot more to me than using my skill and my wit for another's gain (even if I am good at it and they pay me well for it).

I've had many dreams along the way (some silly, like the little girl who watched one too many John Wayne movies with her mother only to dream of becoming a cow girl who'd ride horses and shoot down bandits with the rest of the sharp shooting sheriffs) but only one truly remains -- I want to write for a living.

I want to tell stories that make people laugh and cry. I want to move people, to inspire them to get up and see potential in their lives simply because I wrote the right words in the right sentence structure about the right character at the right time that reminded them of themselves or someone they knew. I want to wake up in the morning and know that I'm using my mind and all of my talents in a way that people will never forget. And I'm not looking for fame or fortune. I am, much like William Blake, simply longing to write to the audience that is meant to find me, to hear me, and to take the creation of my imagination and make something of it for themselves. And somehow that seems elaborate and sappy all at the same time, doesn't it? But it's true. The unfortunate thing is, I'm completely wrapped up in this thing called "life."

The reality of it all is that I'm thirty-four. I have this crazy education in 19th Century American Literature that I'm not even using. I gave up the dream of a PhD so I could actually have a real job and make "money" and live a somewhat comfortable life with the little girl that I've been raising on my own for the past nine years. I worry about stupid things like FICO scores, credit lines, student loans, the electric bill, the phone bill, the cable bill, the car payment, fuel for the car, maintenance for the car, the rent, food in the fridge, clothes, daycare, getting my daughter to soccer or softball or basketball or volley ball or where the hell ever she needs to go next, college funds, retirement funds (or the lack thereof), helping with homework, did I say that right, did I do that right, the dishes, the laundry, cleaning the house, what I'm going to wear tomorrow and whether or not I look fat in it. And all of this is what sends me to a cubicle in the morning so I can sit and give 100% of everything I've got, intellectually or otherwise, to make someone else a dollar and be thankful when I get some in return. And when it's all over, I find myself sitting here staring at a blank page wondering why I lack the energy, or the creativity, to write.

This is what William Blake would call The Specter: the ghost, the demon in my mind that interferes with my ability to see clearly. So how do I get past that? How do I exorcise this demon that comes in dollars and cents from my mind so I may free myself from the chains that bind me? How do I stop caring about all of these things that seem so pertinent long enough to convince myself that I have enough energy left to sit here and write and try to become that person I dream of being?

I really have no answer. I could preach to you right and left and know there's a possibility that tomorrow will come and I may not write for three more months. The only thing that really sticks with me at this moment are the words one of my friends said to me. He said, after reading some of my past posts, that he admires how much creativity and imagination I've been able to hold onto. He recognizes that though a specter may toy with me, it hasn't successfully blinded me as of yet. He believes that the dream I have is tangible and realistic. He believes that if I can muster up the energy to try I will achieve it. And though the sands of time may be slipping through my fingers, the vision of what I have left indicated to me that he's right; I still have a chance to get there, but only... ONLY if I discipline myself enough to do so (one can't exorcise a specter if they lie dormant and let it rule). And if I polish the few rough chapters that I have, if I complete my novel and submit it for publication only to find myself denied and denied and denied, at least I can lie on my death bed and say that I lived my life fully, that I used what I believed were my true talents, and that I gave it everything I've got.

So then, here's to exorcising The Specter. And here's to the artist and the musician who suffer from the same specter as I. And here's to you, because I know you're in the same damn boat and, as cliche would tell us, it's time to sink or swim.

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