You need to write something.
This is the text of an email from a close friend of mine. A man not taken to outward displays of affection, he sent this to me from what I could only translate as concern for my well being. We have known each other over twenty years having met when we were both at University. Being children of the 60’s and 70’s we discovered within each a kindred soul that might take many thousands of words to explain. He is my computer geek and I am his friend who has never lived up to his potential. We view each other with a level of equality while holding differing values on the meaning of life.
He is one of the few people in the entire world I can have a real conversation with. The list is quite short. There is him, of course, my best friend Daven, my sponsor, and my therapist. Daven moved back to my home state recently, prompting a process of healing in my spirit which has been in desperate need of re-invigoration. I have been aching for his presence the last eight years while he resided in a distant part of the country. More of him will be said at a later date…there is much to be said for our friendship.
My sponsor is an unlikely addition to this list. He is the very definition of a cowboy. Every part of his life has to do with cattle. From the growing, to the buying, to the selling, to the transportation, and ultimately to the overall care of the meat that is for dinner. This is his realm, where he is king. Coming from differing backgrounds it sound improbable that we should be close. Our connection is, of course, the Twelve Step program that we are loyal and passionate members. I have been in recovery a long time. He has a decade more experience than I, and can carries the message of respite, and recovery better that anyone I have ever met. He carries a spirit within him that calls to me and which has given me much solace.
My therapist is that person who gets to hear most of my complaints, and is especially good at triggering the intellectual side of me. I have an excess of education and that sometimes brings a sense of loneliness within my circle of acquaintances. A friend of mine once told me that I was the largest repository of useless information he ever knew. I come from a simple hard working blue collar lineage and tend to befriend folks likeminded to my ancestry. The only real difference is in the toolboxes we use. I have friends who are employed at occupations that require skillful use of the hands. Among them are mechanics, carpenters, food service personnel, construction workers, plumbers, electricians, music industry roadies, truck drivers, equipment operators, and a few current and former exotic dancers (both male and female). Each is greatly talented and highly intelligent.
My toolbox is my brain. If you have read this blog before or any of the other things I have written you will know that I am, and have been all my life, in a deep love affair with words. Hence, my desire and attempt at being a writer. I once, due to personnel irresponsibility, was a member of the country’s homeless population. I was living under a bridge (the fourth such address I called a residence) when it occurred to me that winter was coming (Yes I am a Stark in spirit) and I needed to find a better living situation. I also came to the realization that life would be much more endurable if I found a way to maintain a domicile that was both permanent and had certain amenities; heat, electricity, water, furniture, etc. Not being simple minded, I realized that this goal was obtainable only if I learned a way to get and maintain this form of luxury. It occurred to me that I would need to go somewhere and learn these skills. With the help of my Dear Sainted Mother, I was able to discover, elicit aid, and gain entrance to an institution of higher learning. I occupied that existence for eight years. Therein lays the origin of my toolbox. Therein lays my desire to earn a living by practicing my passion.
My toolbox has been partially closed the last year. Since the passing of My Sweet Deifiúr, Paula, I have been consumed in my grief and impotent in the practice of my love affair with the arrangement of phrases, the origination of verses, the expressing of prattles, the transcribing of facts, the scripting of tales of daring do, the authoring of wondrous words of inspiration, the devising of plans for the future, the penning of platitudes, or even simply putting pen to paper to figure my monthly bills.
Well, the bills have somehow been paid without negative numbers in my bank account. I began my writing exercise that has worked in the past. (Morning Pages as directed by Julia Cameron’s wonderful teaching in “The Artist Way.”) I have ceased eliciting sympathy for my plight from those inclined to give such solace. I have not sought to enlist the aid of the legion of books or websites for authors that offer assistance with writers block. Although, I will admit that a level of empathy would not be an out of sorts exercise, I steer a wide path around such assistance. There is, I have found, only one method of curing writers block.
Admittedly my muse is lacking, or gone. Paula, in her belief of my talent kept me going through starving artist syndrome. She helped pay my bills while I sought publication. She always championed me to all who would sit or stand still long enough to hear her tales of her brother the gifted author. And most important, she never gave up on my dream.
I know not how long the grief process will last. I am weeping as I write this, and have resisted the urge to quit. It seems almost a betrayal of her memory for me to turn my back on what she considered a gift from God. A dear friend told me that I was not betraying a damn thing and that I need to let my grief run its course. I recall that the last stage of the grief process is hope.
Now the lack of muse is a real thing which must be conquered. I am a zealot in the dominion of literary invention. The words are in me. I just need a little push. Well, what I truly need is a swift kick in the ass. So I have a challenge for my friend who sent me the email eliciting this post.
Remember when we were at university and you came up with the idea that we write a story together? Out of that came one of my favorite stories. You declined to participate because you felt that I had written a complete story and, as such, could not contribute to what was already a complete story. It has not been published (yet) but as you read this I am actively submitting it yet again in hopes of publishing success. Here’s the thing. If I publish that story, I will pay you what I am now terming “Muse Money.” For any remuneration I might receive from the publishing of this story, or any in the future, I will direct 10% to you in whatever manner you desire. We both know this is not enough to pay for one of the hundreds (?) of meals we’ve enjoyed in restaurants where you picked up the tab let alone even begin to financially compensate you for the pecuniary munificence you have shown me. I do this in the spirit of the businessman in you, and the belief you hang on to that I will succeed as a writer beyond that which I have already enjoyed.
I am, if nothing else, able to follow instruction. This post, albeit late given the date of the email, is proof of my continuing ability to arrange words. What I would request from you is the idea for another story. What I propose is a partnership wherein you get the ideas and I put them down on paper. This, I imagine, will not be a long-term collaboration. The precipitate pouncing of my posterior end given me by your ideas will, hopefully, reinvigorate the creative juices that have been cogitating in me. In this I retreat to the stages of grief and the place upon which I ardently covet …hope springs eternal.
I would ask that we do not discuss this over the phone, or when we get to see each other. Let us communicate through that which is so important to both of us…words. I would ask that you reply in the comment section on the blog. I am re-involving myself with the blogosphere in all of my presences. Well at least that is the plan. More to come.