Writing was never hard for me until I tried to make it something I had to do, rather than something I wanted to do.
This is a critical insight into my life.
During my school days, I’d push off assigned reading and read tons of other books. But if one of those books ended up on our syllabus, it quickly lost its allure.
Had to, versus want to, was the only difference.
Now that I have to write, it’s harder for me, much, much harder. It’s because I still hate being told what to do, even when it’s me doing the telling.
I still hate being told what to do, even when it’s me doing the telling.
I’m certain this is a character flaw. This absolute resistance to some authority. I could be fine for years twirling in place like that totem in Inception so long as you left me alone, but the instant you asked for something disrespectfully, even if it wasn’t too much to ask for, I’d start to wobble. Flinch.
It would be over.
Disrespect is a death sentence for me. Even apparent disrespect.
So I have learned to ask myself nicely.
You know, writing is a wonderful thing to do. Some would say you’re pretty good at it, too. Why not give that blinking cursor a piece of your mind? Maybe your heart and soul, too, if you think it worthwhile.
But who am I fooling?
I write best angry. I write best fired up.
Perhaps it’s why I became a lawyer, even though I don’t like arguing with people, I do like engaging with bullies. Because of this, sometimes, oftentimes, I wrestle with myself.
Combating authority is a flavor developed from the recipe of youth. These traits cling to me because I have a bit of boy still, even as I tread toward the “middle aged.” There is much Peter to this cast iron pan.
I’m not green with envy or environment, but I battle internally with strangers who toss cigarettes out their window like the world is their ashtray.
I am confounded at all the food I (we) waste. And hurt when I hear many of us go to bed hungry.
These outrages, these authorities, can go one of two ways. Anger for anger’s sake (never a good idea), or anger for action’s sake (sometimes a good idea).
Anger for anger’s sake is road raging for sixty seconds, heading on home and watching The Voice, forgetting all about it. This is common. Anger for action’s sake could be bad (confronting the cigarette chucker) or good (lobbying with legislators for stronger awareness of what it can do).
They say you should write about what breaks your heart. And I always thought that was such a negative way to look at things. Tragically, it seems the art in many an artist comes from pain. From anger. From hurt.
I wanted to write a book (and did) that came from somewhere else. And I think I did. I’m not sure it’s the greatest book I could write, but it was the one I wanted to write. One I needed to. But I was never angry writing it. I was never defiant because someone told me I needed to. What it lacks in edge it makes up for in nostalgia. It’s a time and place I can revisit whenever I need to remember how I felt then, how I had to write. And keep writing.
Not because I had to because someone told me to. But because it was something that had to be said. By me. Right then and there.
And I think that’s the beauty of finding your art. It’s not that you’re told to, or want to, it’s that you are compelled to. Not from someone, or something. But from somewhere deep inside that warm place inside your rib cage. Whereas some come out of there and angrily (or worse yet, carelessly) toss Marlboros going 80 on the 485, others pull out a novel or a painting or some other new found glory.
Not because you wanted to, or even had to, but because you had to. That sort of inevitability, a tumbling towards center, is the only way to rebel.