When Writing Takes Over
When your personal history is written, what would you want it to say? Would you want it to be about your accomplishments; a litany of successes peppered with a few destiny shaping failures in which you learned a crucial life lesson at precisely the right moment? Or would you want it to be more tolerant of the inevitable sloppiness of life; illustrating the not only the times you behaved with the sanctity of the blessed, but also the depravity of the monstrous? Would you want it to conclude with an examination of your relative importance of you social status, or would you be satisfied with a simpler epitaph, stating merely that “he did his best”. And what of your family; how big a part would they play in your story? Would you make an attempt to tell of who they were, as best you were able to determine), making them principle characters in their own right, or would they be relegated to minor roles, trotted out as instruments of plot service or characterization?
I’ve been asking myself these questions more and more of late, lying in bed at night wondering if the path I have chosen is indeed a straight one, or if I’ve become lost in some metaphorical fog where forks in the road have been hidden or hard to see. I ask myself if I am on my true journey, or have I wandered into someone else’s idea of what it is to be me?
Am I the man I want to be? Probably not. I have happiness and joy in my life, it’s true. I live comfortably within my means and don’t feel that any material want or need is hopelessly out of reach. But something nags. Out there, just beyond of the range of my perception, are whispers of something I can’t quite identify. Of certain possibilities I might have overlooked, of dreams not pursued, tasks not undertaken. I have begun to doubt my sense of self, and whether the story I have written thus far is the “whole” truth of who I wish to be.
Some might say this is merely the beginnings of a mid life crisis, to which my first impulse would be to respond that they are full of shit. I have no desire for twenty-something mistresses, or a fancy red sports car, nor do I feel that my chosen career path is destined for disappointment. My sense of self-worth has never been bonded to self-image. I’ve been intelligent enough, or lucky enough, to have succeeded in every work related venture I’ve undertaken, even managing to make minor name for myself in each (although, for vastly different reasons). I believe I could cheerfully continue working my present job as long as I am physically able, and at the end of the day, would declare myself happy and fulfilled.
But then again, perhaps not.
Since I’ve been writing this blog, my mind has begun to drift in a different direction. I find myself no longer preoccupied with things like server optimization, or building the perfect workstation, or teaching others it is not necessary to fear the machine. [Aside: I say this, of course, just after manually editing this site’s code to fix a minor layout annoyance.] Instead, my thoughts shuffle off to lands of fantasy or intellectual exploration; to the analysis of psyche and soul. I dream more of the possible, not the practical, and find myself increasingly motivated to put pen to paper to examine thoughts and feelings often only lightly brushed by actual experience.
I’ve heard it said that writers are cursed to write – they do it not because they want to, but because they have to. The words won’t let one sleep until they have found their way upon the page. I am beginning to understand this now on deeply personal level, and it troubles me. I feel compelled to write more and more, as if I have become possessed by stories. They command my attention more than my day-to-day life, luring me with the promise of refuge against normalcy and the mundane. I am becoming bored with who I am, and slipping further and further into the dream of possibility.
But there is still the reality of existence to deal with. Wife, job, bills – life in general gets in the way. They interrupt my journeys of the mind, and keep me rooted in an existence I’m coming to doubt. I no longer know if the life I’m living is a story I’d like to finish, or one I need to send back to the drawing board for extensive revisions. The past may not be editable, but it never hurts to give it additional scrutiny, particularly when the future is ever in question. I need to look at who I was and see if the “me” I suspect I want to be hasn’t been lurking there all along. Perhaps it is his voice whispering the call to pen and paper? Perhaps he is the one trying to get me to rewrite my own personal history, to set me back on a path I was meant to take?
We shall see. For the time being I will continue to lead a double life, making my living day-to-day and at night settling in front of a phosphorous glare and stringing together word after word in an effort to find where my true purpose really lies. Whether it leads to a major change or not is entirely up to me, I suppose. I am, after all, supposed to be the master of my own fate, the author of my own tale. But doubt is never a silent partner, and I’m sure the nagging will never cease until that critical moment, that third act reveal, is reached. I will write because I have to, because to not write is no longer a possibility. Maybe then, I will finally know how my own story is supposed to end.