13 August 2010

Have Nails, Don't Have a Hammer

Instead of writing this morning, I read a book and fell asleep.

Instead of writing this afternoon, I took photographs and looked for a job.

Instead of writing this evening,  I fled the house and went for a bike ride.

In short, I feel as if I accomplished nothing.  My head is bursting with thoughts, ideas, tirades, screeds, dialogues, poems, outrage, anxiety, resignation, joy, fear...and I can't get it to settle down.  Everyone and his brother is telling me I need to write every day.  This creates anxiety when I fail to write.  Rather, when I fail to write anything of consequence.  This I haven't felt motivated to do because of my life situation, and because I keep reading amazing, wonderful things that others have written, and I think to myself..."It's been done."  I know, I know, I'm supposed to disregard that notion.  I'm supposed to believe that I am the Shizznit, my voice matters, I'm interesting, I have a "unique" perspective, blah, blah blah...

That may be true.  I cannot trust myself to offer an objective, realistic assessment of the writing I do.  Often it's too close and I fail to spot the flaws.  Other times I suffer from the old problem of not wanting to risk rejection, because these are my ideas.  Ideas are important to me.  Perhaps I place too much stock in the ideas being the measure of the person, and this is the root of the problem.

I once told myself, back when I was consumed by the brashness of youth, that without ideas, I am nothing.  Without ideas I have nothing to differentiate myself from slime-molds, rocks or chimpanzees.  The body is a meat suit that exists to transport the brain and manifest its wishes and reactions.  It is the mind that is the repository of everything that matters.  The vault that holds the ideas.

The crisis: I have relied on ideas for so long, trusting that I would know what I am doing, and look where I am.  Jobless, lonely and wondering what in the hell I am going to do next.

Because I don't know. I have no ideas.

There is a line in a song* by the Avett Brothers that says "Decide what to be and go be it".  The phrase has been swirling around in my head for days now.  It sounds so simple.  I wish I could decide what to be.

For me to decide what to be, I have to return to the ideas I have had and have been having about myself, and what I want.  It pains me, makes me anxious, to sift through the ideas in my head and be excited by what I find.  The excitement is great.  There is, however, no trust.  My notions of who I was, who I wanted to be, have been tossed out the window by what has come to pass.  What once was light has become weight.

Tonight I sit here with my laptop, pounding the keys in an attempt to shed some weight.  There are many things I want to be, many things I think I want to be, but what of those are the things I need to be?

I'm clutching a handful of nails, and cursing my lack of a hammer.  Tell me, who do I want to be?

*Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise from I and Love and You.


  1. "The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do well, and doing well whatever you do without thought of fame. If it comes at all it will come because it is deserved, not because it is sought after." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    LOVE the Avett Brothers!

    Let it happen.


  2. you don't have to make any decisions. what you did today was awesome! read? photograph? bike? lovely! writing every day has been my goal for just this year (and won't be for next) = kind of like vegetables, they're good for me and if i eat 'em enough it's a good thing not a chore. do not EVER worry about writing anything of great consequence - when i have 'nothing' i do my gratitude list, or describe what i see around me as i sit, or write about my dog. who gives a shit if you think it's good. you take a roll of film and you have to be happy if you get 2 or 3 frames you can actually do something with. same goes with writing. that's why it's called art.

    chill baby.

  3. Oh my, Irish! You're always too deep for me!

    Not a single idea in my head, and I'm proud of it!

    I just do. . .

  4. Everything you write has a consequence... just perhaps not obvious to you or even someone else in general but it might for one person at least.
    Everything you named had consequences.. you read.. you gained knowledge, you photographed..you recorded what you saw ...you rode a bike.. good for your health and mental well being...
    In my opinion, you had a busy healthy good day :)
    I agree with EcoGrrl... who rang a bell with me when she mentioned talking about her dog ( I do too!), it is not always a matter of what you think is good.. it is how it affects your life and those around you.
    I worry about being boring... then someone tells me of the positive effect of something I wrote ...
    Keep on writing Kevin and photographing and sharing ... you will just naturally fall into Who you will be.

  5. Hmmh! You read, rested, job searched and exercised. Sounds like you achieved a lot. Sometimes, it is better not to force things, but if your only concern is that it has been done all ready, why not look at it diffeently? It has not been done by you! And I'm sure you'd write in a way that I have not already read it in.

    For now, if you have free time, think of it as a luxury. Most people don't get more than a few stolen moments away from work, and in that time is barely suffice to do all the things that need to be done. Enjoy the time off. Think of it as an extended holiday. Do the things you have not had the time to do and make the most of it. The writing will follow.

    Enjoy your week end :)

  6. PS, I can't help giving advice. I'm an advisor by trade. Don't be offended :)

  7. Its no consolation at all Irish to say that I know exactly how your feeling, if not exactly, I sure know some of the kind of emotions that your feeling.
    As for ideas been the measure of the person? This is a thought that I live with every week. I’m quite sure that it will one day finish me off to!

    Its tough when your words are driven by such deep standards and the hope of divine inspiration?
    But that’s the price that people like yourself pay...the price? Because just by admitting to it, you’ve produced a brilliantly honest piece, all to itself.
    I don’t think that your writing was like this in the early days?

    If anything, vulnerabilities and deepness breeds inspiration, be it 40 words or 400.
    I’ve lived and emotionally died by ideas for my entire life...and I’m nowhere we’re I thought I’d be.

    Don't get bogged down in the principles of arty-farty expression.
    Your rock and roll through and through and a good man.
    Write to say fuck off and write to say a friendly hello.

    You’ve a body of work here that already stands head and shoulders above other expressions and ideas.
    If anything Irish....be proud...and say it fucking loud....

  8. You're doing the writing thing now, whether you know it or not.
    Sometimes you have to get out of your head, step back and let things flow through you. I'm not good at articulating this, but it's like you have to feel your way around it rather than thinking it through.
    Hang in there. xo

  9. Who you are is the product of who you want to be x the effort/focus you're willing to put into being it.

    Plus a shit-load of luck....

    I want to be a writer. Since I was big enough to hold a pencil, there have never been any other dreams for me. I have two and a half manuscripts (4 and a half, if you count the ones I wrote in my twenties and thirties that only ran to 100 pages), I'm unpublished except for my blog and a couple of local contests and I'm 56 years old. The chances that's ever going to change grow slimmer and slimmer. And the time, effort, love, energy I put into writing might be better spent on being a more available wife/mother/ grandmother/worker.

    But I have just one dream.

  10. I could spend all day telling you who you are...so I could avoid figuring out who I am. I'm job searching, soul searching, hitting life full on with no clue WTH to do next.

    I haven't gotten into my actual writing projects in over six weeks. The only things I've written have been journal-worthy. And that simple won't pay my bills. But sometimes it's all I have to give.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...