Writing is the thing, the whole thing and nothing but the thing.
I’ve uttered that sentence a million times, and I’ve been judged on it just about as many times. As people are wont to do, they provide their own valuation to the sentiment. They tailor it to fit their rules, never minding the questions that might lead to a better understanding as to where I was coming from.
The truth is, writing saved my life once upon a time. It saved my too young self from a black hole. It saved me from something that I was too young to understand; something I still do not understand, even now. Writing helped me stay above water when it looked like I might drown.
I didn’t come to writing out of a love for the written word. I came to writing because it provided me with a peace of mind I really needed. It was a life preserver for a boy who was getting in some kind of trouble all the time; for a boy who cursed the existence of God.
When I was a toddler, we didn’t have money for coloring books so my mother would let me scribble my words and pictures in an old dictionary. I truly believe that’s where my ability to cull words out of the ennui comes from. And it paid off years later when I would write whole new worlds into being just so I could live there for a while.
As such, I’ve always possessed a very different take on things. Which is why I’ve never been one for mentors or favorite teachers or any of that. I was bullied throughout grade school, and I was always the one coming to my own rescue. I was painfully introverted on account of the storm which resided inside of me, and so I was easy pickings for bullies. When I fought back I only got in more trouble, so writing became the thing. The whole thing. Nothing but the thing.
When rummaging through all of this with my therapist several years ago, I broke down. I’d never taken the time to process just how heavy all this shit really was, or the toll it had taken on me. I liken it to lifting heavy objects with your back for years and years, until your back tells you it ain’t having any more of it.
That’s what happened as I sat in her office and recounted all those broken pieces of me. I talked about being a boy who wanted to run away and never come back. And from that period in time, I would carry certain beliefs and opinions; skewed and ugly and patterned after what had happened all the way back there.
Well into my adult life, I was averse to most conventions and traditions. I just could not relate to them, whatsoever. All the smiley faced remedies of the world were lost on me. And the idea that “Life is too short,” . . well, that shit just pissed me off. Because to me, life oftentimes felt excruciatingly long. Life, the real deal ugly shit of it, had plundered the most precious of my emotions. And in so doing, I had galvanized myself by making my own rules and abiding by the tenets I trusted. It was either that or losing myself to the darkness and giving in to the voices in my head.
Sometimes you have to make the rules that keep you standing. And mine was a simple one. To make writing the thing, the whole thing and nothing but the thing. And so, the next time someone tells you something you don’t quite understand . . rather than fill in the blanks according to what works for you, do something else.
Ask them why.