The Process: Until I Get Back On My Feet
At the church service I went to Wednesday evening, the preacher read from Genesis, Chapter 4, verses 1-10. Those in the know are aware the story in this portion of the chapter is about Caine and his brother Abel, who Caine murders. This, as a result of God choosing to accept Abel’s harvest over Caine’s.
From this scripture, the preacher spoke to the congregation about the importance of being honest with our emotions. As he took to the story to point out, had Caine been honest with God about the way he felt, and expressed his displeasure with what God chose, the resentment he felt towards his brother could have subsided, but instead, it resulted in a most unfortunate demise.
The preacher’s message resonated deeply. I can’t say his words were a revelation so much as they were a reminder of something I too once told people: Real honesty starts with ourselves. If we ever want to be honest with the facts, we must first be honest about our feelings. I have lost sight of that, and though I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I did, I don’t think it’s as important as knowing it now.
I’m going to take some time off from writing on the site. Optimally, a week, but if I need to take more time off, I will. I don’t know if this will include the Poppin’ Questions Podcast as well, since that’s a totally different (and honestly, less daunting) creative process, but I know as far as writing on the site goes, I need to take a break.
For those who haven’t been reading that long, I’ve taken a break before as a result of burn out. I think it was around my 300th post I decided to take a few days away from the blog. This time around is sort of like that time, but it doesn’t feel like I’m burnt out in the way we’ve grown familiar with the phrase.
This time around, I need to take a break to get back on my feet again because right now I am feeling like a man who is face down on the canvas. Things have changed for me in ways that are both scary and mentally taxing and neither of those feelings are normal for me to have. No good is coming out of me acting like it’s all good.
I am a happy guy who has lost his ability to smile. This is not to say I’m sad, more so, stone-faced with a hint of angst in the voice to boot. I’m tired of going to bed each night knowing it won’t be my alarm waking me up, but rather my anxiety, so tonight I’m attempting to go to bed without that feeling by writing out the truth about how I feel.
I knew it was bad tonight when I was waiting for one of my best friends at a club. He told me to meet him there so we could celebrate him receiving his residency match. This is a moment he has worked extremely hard for, a moment for which I was more than happy to toast. And yet, when I found myself waiting for him, I grew more and more agitated not by his tardiness but just being in the company of people. I didn’t want to be around anyone, and anyone who knows me knows anti-social is never a gear I ride in. But there I was, irritable, and sure a lot of that could have to do with the simple fact that I’m just getting over the stomach flu, but if I attributed it to that alone, I would be pulling a Caine. The truth is, I wanted to get out of there just as soon as I got in there, and as soon as I saw my friend, I didn’t even wait for him to get through the line. I pushed my way outside, told him congratulations, and to hit me up tomorrow, then walked to the subway so I could go home.
On the train, everything hit me. I realized how far away from my normal self I am these days. If I was my normal self, I would not have been on that train so soon. My normal self would not even be writing this post at 2:23 a.m. My normal self would be at the place where my boy asked me to meet him, partying with him and a bunch of fresh doctors, one of whom would more than likely be a cute female I would attempt to schedule a check up with.
Instead, I’m here admitting to all my readers that these days, I feel more lost than ever and this whole lost feeling is new to me. I’m a man who knew he wanted to write for a living since the age of 13 all because I knew I was good at it, and lately I feel quite the opposite; like I’m good, but not good enough. I want to get better at my craft, and when I say that, I don’t mean better on this blog, I mean better at the kind of writing that pays my bills.
This blog is where I do my life’s work. They say, write what you know. For close to 500 posts I have done that by writing about myself and frankly, I need to take a break, if only for a week. The pendulum has swung too far in the direction of this blog, and I need to achieve a certain balance in my career. To be completely honest, I need to take time away from the blog to reevaluate the way I’m working the blog now. Just because I will be taking a writing break from UIGM doesn’t mean I won’t be evaluating it as a business too.
I always tell people my life controls the blog, the blog doesn’t control my life, but these days, I’m starving, and I think a lot of that has to do with how much I give to the blog. I feed this thing more than I feed myself and the rest of my career. I should be at SXSW covering up-and-coming acts for a major publication or working on two or three pieces for various other publications. I should be writing important work for other outlets, creating content on other sites, not just this one. But I’m not. Yesterday I found out the piece I did about Nate Dogg was the most searched for piece on NPR.org. Words can’t explain how good it felt to hear that news. Sure I love getting all the love and acclaim for the work I do on this blog, but I write for a living, so my best work can’t just be here. It has to be everywhere.
For a writer, confidence in their ability is most essential. Without confidence, a writer may as well not have a pen, a paper, or a keyboard. I have lost some of that confidence and in order for me to continue to do this as a career, I need all of it back.
All. Of. It.
Don’t get me wrong, nothing makes me more proud of my career as a writer than what I have created here, but imagine a fisherman who does what he does to eat and does what he does for fun. That’s me. That’s what I do every single day. When I’m not writing here, it’s because I’m writing elsewhere, and when I’m not writing elsewhere, it’s because I’m writing here.
The thing about creating your own body of work is you sometimes get so caught up in putting it all together, you think you’re controlling it but you’re not. If you can’t step away from that thing you’re putting together, then that thing is beating you. True control is having the ability to keep something in place even when your hands are not physically on it; it’s being able to step away from it and come back to it whenever you damn well please.
So hands off this little slice of my life, so I can take back control a greater part of my life. This is about more than just my blog or my writing for other places. This is about me getting back on my feet and getting back control of what is most important to me. I’m not sad, I’m lost. There’s a difference. I lost my smile, and damn it, I’m a smiling motherf*cker. I like to smile. I like to be happy for my friends. I like to be happy for myself. Happiness is not some mood I get in, happiness is my damn nature. But these days, I haven’t been feeling that way, which means I’ve lost control.
Excuse me while I go get it back.