I Think My Muse Has ADD

So, I was sitting in a cafe today, having a not-bad cup of coffee and staring another blank sheet of paper in the face. I finished the story I was working on last night in a different cafe (with much better coffee; you wouldn´t believe how hard it is to find a decent cup down thisaway), and I´m really trying to get into the habit of writing everyday, both for the sake of my sanity and because a lot of people whose opinions I respect seem to think it´s a really good idea.

I´m trying, if you will, to change my conception of being a writer from something you are to something you do.

So anyway, there I was, coffee half-gone and going cold, pen a-tapping at the page, and twenty-seven light-blue lines staring back at me, daring me to get scrawling.  Problem was, I was fresh out of ideas at the moment. Continue reading “I Think My Muse Has ADD”

Addictions are Nature´s Anti-Depressants

I remember my college girlfriend asking me once what smoking did for me, and I told her something like this:

“You know that feeling you get that makes you go open the fridge and look inside even though you´re not hungry and you know what´s in there anyway?  Smoking helps make that feeling go away.”

I don´t think I understood at the time what I was saying.  I was just trying to articulate something that seemed ineffable, because everyone I knew knew that feeling.  I don´t think any of us understood what it was.  It was just one of those mysteries of life, another iteration of the angst that seemed our lot as late teens and developing adults.  Something everyone was doomed to feel their whole lives, that lack that could never be filled and you just had to learn how to deal with.

Smoking was really good for dealing with that.  I imagine heroin, or cocaine, or whatever thing any particular person might get addicted to is, too.  And I know a lot of people feel that lack, because anti-depressant drugs are as popular and profitable as just about anything ever.

And I think that addiction and anti-depressants fulfill the same function for an imbalanced psyche, albeit in different ways. Continue reading “Addictions are Nature´s Anti-Depressants”

The Conspiracy, For and Against

Here I am, half a world away from the place I´ve called home for the last dozen-plus years, living the dream, wandering a new continent, and the longer I am here, the more I realize that what I need to do is write.

There´s a part of me that wants to be disappointed.  I can write anywhere, this part of me says.  Why can´t I put it aside, make the most of this opportunity to see new places and explore new things?  The pressure is immense.  After all, when, realistically, will I be here again?  I should make the most of it while I can.  All this business of facing my personal darkness and finding something like redemption or purpose in my work can be done later, when I get home and have nothing better to do.

When I look back, this part of me says, I will regret squandering this opportunity to explore.  The worst, most insidious thing is this: the voice is right.  It has a legitimate point.

After all, what is the purpose of travel, if not to see new places, meet new people, explore the vast and wondrous variety this world has to offer?  To shuck the comfort and security of the familiar and find yourself anew, shorn of the habits of mind and life that normally circumscribe your passage through this world, and, you know, have a little fun while you do it?

Thing is, all that shucking and shearing and finding myself anew has led me to a different conclusion than the part of me that says I need to make the most of my journey-as-journey says it should.  That what I thought this journey would do, take me outside myself, offer me respite from the darkness always hovering over me, is not what this journey has done.  What this journey has done is, rather, the complete opposite: it has brought all the things I thought it would liberate me from to the forefront, and demanded that I face them.

Son of a bitch. Continue reading “The Conspiracy, For and Against”

Learning the Hard Way (Again)

I´ll start by saying that I never have been much good at being happy.  Oh, I´ve had my moments, even periods of weeks and months when I was genuinely, truly happy, when the stars were aligned and things were going well and I recognized it and was grateful.

But those times never lasted, and when the light went away, the darkness welled up from its hidey-hole, and there I was again.  I´ve tried to fill that hole with all kinds of things:  sex, drugs, alcohol, food, friends, travel, books, jokes, you name it.  None of it ever works for long. Continue reading “Learning the Hard Way (Again)”

On the Importance of Books for the Traveler

There are those of us who are never, or rarely, without a book, no matter where we are or what we´re doing.  Sometimes we´ll carry it around even though we know we aren´t going to have a chance to read it, our own little personal totem, if you will, that marks and protects us and reveals us to kindred spirits.  And while we increasingly fill those interstitial moments these days with social media as delivered to us via our pocket-sized electronic umbilica, we can´t always get a signal, and even if we can, there´s something to be said for the pleasures of immersive single-tasking, and books come in really handy at times like that.

But there´s something about traveling that turns almost everyone into a reader.   Continue reading “On the Importance of Books for the Traveler”