Looking for Me

Author is a funny old word. A bit uppity if you ask me. I’ll freely admit to referring to myself as one from time to time. Hey, a guy’s got to do what a guy’s got to do. But, author is as good a word as any to describe what an introverted person does to pretend their imagination is as interesting as the real world. It must be, otherwise so many people wouldn’t spend their time and money buying books and reading them.

But, I can’t in good conscience call myself and author. Sounds more professional than I consider myself. I’m a writer. I write. I’m simple that way. When I sit down to regurgitate what my brain whispers in my ear, I’ve dissolved any notions of being an author. Being an author brings with it certain expectations I can no longer harbor. Authors want to make money and be household names. Once upon a time– see how I can use clichéd literary terms in the right context– I wanted both those things. I wanted my name to be up there with Stephen King and Anne Rice. You can feel free to insert any famous author you want, but seven plus years of being an author has taught me expectations can be depressing. So I’ve given up thinking like an author.

Way back when–another literary term you may be familiar with–I wrote because I enjoyed the process. It was freeing. I had fun. I enjoyed visiting the places I usually only got to see when I was asleep. I loved exploring them with one simple premise in mind–What If?. Now, I don’t have as much fun. Instead of What If? I worry about deadlines, keeping continuity straight, and a few other things I don’t feel comfortable discussing in a public venue. The point is, as a result I don’t enjoy the process. It has become work. My worlds aren’t escapes anymore. They’ve become a part of something totally unsavory to my disposition. They’ve become — gasp!– reality! What creative type can cope with something like that? Creativity should never be referred to in the same context as the real world.

Creativity is and should always be an expression of your inner child. When you grow up, you forget what it means to have fun on a childlike level. Fun constitutes a day off work. A short trip to the book store, or comic book store as the case may be. Fun isn’t something that happens every day. It is a small grasp at something rarely experienced. Kids see fun as an all-consuming imperative, only interrupted by things called school and chores. Ick!

So, I’ve made up my mind not to be an author. Not to struggle with all the things that go with it. Nope, I’m going to have fun or not do it at all. Does that mean I’m quitting? Maybe, but first I want to explore myself first. Stop thinking those thoughts, you perv. No, I’m going to explore who I am. Strange as it might sound, I’ve forgotten who I am, as a person with creative bent. I’ve probably blogged about this before, but it’s true nonetheless.

Over the past few months, I’ve felt a growing dissatisfaction doing what I do. Sure, I freely admit that my life may have something to do with this feeling. I’ve hidden myself in a safe world when chances aren’t something I tend to take. I’ve kept myself chained to a job I hate to pay the bills. When you’re a father and husband, you can’t afford to take chances, because other lives revolve around every choice you make. Those choices have put a roof over our heads, and helped to put food on the table, but they’ve cut out something that is so easy to forget. Most people don’t even realize they’ve lost it. Living.

True, I’ve lived, but I don’t think I’ve LIVED. If you catch my drift. I’m in the process of following dreams, I’ve left behind in the process of being a productive member of society. Whether or not they come to fruition remains to be seen, but while I’m addressing those issues, I want to take a look at who I am as a writer. Notice, the A word was not used.

That isn’t to say I’m cutting lose my comedic brain trust. I enjoy making people laugh. It makes me smile to think I can make other people smile. But, lately I’ve begun to wonder, if making with the funny is being true to the totality of who I am.

To figure out that mental debate, I want to be true to who I was when I began writing. So, over the next year I’m going to be true to two separate mes. The me I was back when writing was new and exciting. And, the me who has learned not only how to write, but the fundamentals of writing correctly. I want to examine that duality of me on paper, or in a Word doc if I want to be politically correct about the process. Most people see me as a Star Wars fueled geek with a penchant for using pop culture to drive the plots of my books. I’d like to think those people who have read my books have seen past the façade of pop culture and comic book plot elements to see the message planted beneath the one liners and bazingas. There is more to me than a zippy funny bone.

I don’t know if this new book I plan to throw my heart and soul into will be worth the effort. We never know such things until we’re done. For me, it isn’t the finished product that counts as much as the effort of doing it.

As an artist, I once told myself if I could not be the best I could be, I would walk away. For nearly ten years I did. Recently, I went back and began painting again. I discovered two things. I hadn’t forgotten how to paint. More importantly, I still had something to say with my work. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the paintings when I was finished, but I never am. I believe that’s part of being an artist of any kind. We are never satisfied. There is ALWAYS room for better. Surprisingly, as I look back on my old life as an artist and this new adventure into it, I see that my time away gave me the perspective on being an artist. I needed that away to breathe new life into me.

So, if I decide to step back from writing to examine who I am and what I want to do, I don’t see myself never picking up a laptop again. I see myself growing into the writer–still no author–I need to be to be true to myself and true to work I produce.

If I can’t do that, what is the sense in doing anything?

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4 thoughts on “Looking for Me

  1. We all feel this at some time in our life. You are making your world work better for you by working on your creativity. I made mine by moving to a place where I feel so much more at home and can write my stories at my desk overlooking the Tomahawk River. I am so proud of what you have accomplished and some day when you look back on this time in your life you will smile and say, “Those were the days.”

    • Love ya, Paisley. I think the whole process isn’t growing older, but growing up. You constantly rediscover yourself, because you’re constantly changing as a person. Becoming more you.

  2. Janet Butler says:

    Whatever you write, JMo, I’ve always been able to see between the lines. That’s what makes what you do so incredibly knock-socks-off, IMHO. Most of us who are “funny” are funny out of our pain; most of us who go on wild adventures with you are sorry when they’re done. Sounds like you’re delving into what many of us call “the book of the heart” territory, and believe me, that is the scariest place in the world to be. But it’s also incredibly cool when you WRITE that book of the heart (or many of them!) and find other people who “get” it. Me, I’m in awe of what you do. I’m running as fast as I can, but I’ll still never catch up. So trust me…it matters. And I can only think this inward examination you’re doing is going to make you even better as a writer, an artist, and a person. And then I’m gonna just give up, because I’ll never run THAT fast. 🙂 Take care, my friend!

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