So… okay. I’m going to try to explain a couple of things that happened over the last several months, in regards to my work and lifestyle. Please, in advance, forgive my myopic and self-indulgent post.
Post MFA life has found me at a bunch of crazy making intersections. While my family relationships have gotten much stronger and way more intense, my self-confidence in my work has waned. I’m coming to grips with what many of my friends and fellow writers/artists have been telling me all along. I am hard to understand. My work is hard to understand.
Its not just that I am difficult to understand at the sentence, or content level, but also at the macro and molar level. This is something I need to work on. If I have grown silent, been publishing less, been absent, it is mostly because I have felt my work has very little relevance to most people.
I think a lot of this has to do with how I think, and how I see the world.
When someone engages with me in conversation, if there are even minimal levels of conflict/anger/pain or worse, admiration/congratulation I get spun out for a very long time thinking about it. I might disassemble and reassemble a conversation for several hours, hours which I spend in profound and debilitating pain. Many of my friends probably know exactly what I mean.
I’ve come to recognize that most people don’t want to live in that space, or read about it.
All of this internalized conflict gets wrung into the work. And sometimes, on my best days, I achieve something of the essence of a David Lynch film. At worst, it is mostly just word salad to most readers.
I think a lot of this activity stems from a very mild form of Asperger’s, but nothing was ever diagnosed. I spent most of my childhood trying to understand any one of the social interactions that took place. It was all terrifying. In the adult world, at 43, the consequences for any misstep I take can hurt me and my family. It’s terrifying, and often a paralytic weight I can’t adequately lift on the daily.I push into it with a lot of courage, but I fail a lot. Consequences for failure range from loss of affection to getting the shit kicked out of me, or people I care about.
I’m thankful for all the artists/writers/thinkers/mentors/friends/family who have dealt with this over time. I haven’t been able to tell you how much your attention and work means to me. I’ve spent the last six months in a sort of editor’s prison, trying to open several of my completed manuscripts so they connect with people.
I came to the conclusion that my pride that I had built up about my “ability” was a callous that had grown over my in-ability to connect meaningfully with others. I was proud of providing work that needed to be decoded, placing the reader in that angry-chair that I have to sit in to work this stuff all out in my head.
Most of the time, I feel deeply ugly, like an affliction that spreads as I walk among you. I’d rather be an agent of empathy, and if I were to be a contagion, I would want to produce a useful hope, and encouragement of the arts: not more self-loathing.
Undoing this knot has taken some time. A false-pride can work its way into the smallest cracks of the soul, twisting anything good into more bad.
A purposeful knot can be beautiful, and takes time to learn. Its design binds or slips where it should, like language, like any tool. You can see and feel it as you use it, it becomes more clear with each bend and fold.
I want to get better at it, and get better at understanding myself and you.
It brings together.