I was gonna write a thing tonight, but I’m not sure I want to. I think I’d rather play a video game, or watch a show, or have another glass of wine.
You see, I write all day, every day. Every word thought out, revised. Every syllable measured.
I miss the freedom of obscurity, sometimes. Of being a guy who nobody really listened to. If I said something stupid then, or made myself vulnerable, it was just a few little ripples in a small pond.
Now, every day, there’s someone out there trying to tear me down. Looking for an angle, a misstep, a weakness. Maybe all I have to do is write something that isn’t fantastic. Make some observation that’s unoriginal or sub-par. As long as they find their dig. As long as they get to take a pot-shot from no-man’s-land.
There’s a writer I read sometimes, who spills his guts every day. He’s made a good living for himself doing it. He doesn’t hold back, or if he does, you can’t tell. He shares secrets and personal stories and puts himself out there like a fool. He sells a lot of books. I don’t know whether I respect him, or pity him, or both.
This year, his writing isn’t as good. He used to mention his girlfriend (or was it wife?) all the time. Now he doesn’t. I can’t shake the feeling that she left him. Maybe because he spent so much time being naked for the world there wasn’t any intimacy left to be had.
Is it worth it, to sell books?
Is it worth laying everything bare?
Can you have real friends when everyone knows your sins? How awkward are those dinner parties?
For my part, I’m mostly tired. Overweight, out of shape, and stressed out. I sit in front of these two glowing screens all day in a windowless room developing my writer’s physique, documenting the rapid decline of a faith I unaccountably love. Or do I love the idea of loving it? Is it just that I’ve fought this fight for so long, I don’t know who I am without it?
Everyone projects the kind of person they want the world to see. Online friendships are far easier than the real kind. Cultivate and calculate. It becomes routine to be witty, or sound smart, when you’re sitting there with food stains on your old t-shirt, in your basement, sad because your world is crumbling around you…but hey, people on Facebook think you’re cool! You took the time to make sure.
I wonder about my health. My relationships. I wonder how to be the man I’m supposed to be. I’m almost 40, and I’m not sure why I could never conform. Couldn’t have the career, climb the ladder, make some serious money, live the suburban dream.
Instead I write, analyze, struggle. I edit, publish, push. I’m a one-man information army, but my forces never seem adequate for the task. How can I build a platform big enough? How can I make my voice loud enough? What must I do to really make a difference? And if I do change things, how will I feel when I have to lay down my arms?
A soldier in peacetime is a funny thing.
I watch an endless stream of tragedies spool out from people I know like so much spent ribbon. Cancer. Disease. Grief. People dead too young, people expected to die too soon. Struggle. Always struggle. I struggle too, but I feel bad for feeling bad. Not being able to pay the bills isn’t good; not being able to wake up tomorrow is worse. Who am I to complain?
When I was a kid, I wanted to write fiction. To be an actor. To live in a world of possibility and imagination, not of reality and despair. When I was young, I saw who I could be. Now that I’m older, I see who I never became. My imagination, once fertile, feels like a ghost town, laid waste to by regret.
Every day is a new chance, and I know it. But every today feels like every yesterday, played again and again like a child’s cartoon. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. The day is promising, but there are only so many hours. So many inadequacies that can be filled in.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
There’s a way out of the rut, there must be. There’s a future ahead that’s vibrant, not bleak. There are possibilities as yet undiscovered, not just the same old things rehashed.
Tell me it’s true. Even if it’s a lie.
I was gonna write a thing tonight, but I’m not sure this was it, or if I want it to be.
Steve Skojec is a storyteller, writer, blogger, photographer, designer, and sci-fi fan. He is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. He lives in Arizona with his wife Jamie and six of their seven children.