Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Pursuit of Happiness


I'm currently riding the Amtrak up and down the east and west coast. Right now I don't know if I'm depressed, angry or what. I do know that I'm deeply disturbed and extremely emotional. 

Why? 

I'm currently reading a book titled, The Forest For The Trees by Betsy Lerner. In the book the author describes, "The Ambivalent Writer" as follows:
For the ambivalent writer who cannot attempt, sustain, or complete a piece of writing, the ambivalence usually shifts back and forth from the writing to self. The inner monologue drums: I am great. I am shit. I am great. I am shit.
The author goes on to state the following:
I believe that the writer who can't figure out what form to write in or what to write is stalling for a reason. Perhaps he is dancing around a subject because he is not ready to handle it, psychologically or emotionally. Perhaps he is unable to pursue a project because doing so would upset his world too much, or the people in it. Maybe not writing, maybe being driven crazy by the desire to write and the inability to follow through, is serving some greater goal, keeping  some greater fear at bay. Fear of failure is the reason most often cited to explain why so many aspiring writers never realize their dreams.
These two paragraphs pretty much describe my existence right now. I want so much to pursue my writing career, but something is holding me back. That something is, and always has been, me.

I suffer from an inferiority complex when it comes to my writing. I'm quite secure about everything else in life except the thing that matters to me the most...my writing. 

The Forest For The Trees has been sitting, unread, on my bookshelf for five years. I don't know what made me put in my suitcase (fate maybe), but I'm glad I did. I'm glad I finally took time out to read it. It has been the lifesaver I needed. It has been the kick in the ass I needed.

I fear failure. I'm human. I've talked about this before. I fear I might pour my heart and soul into a manuscript only to be ignored by readers. It has already happened to me once. Rejection is a hard pill to swallow.

I want to be a successful writer, but I have to re-evaluate what it means to be successful. Arguably, I'm successful right now. One book has given me financial security. However, that book has not made me happy. Why? Because it is NOT my best work. It is not the work I wish to pursue. So, while it has given me a financial leg up, it hasn't given me much of anything else. Given this reality, I'm not sure if it's fair to call myself successful. What the hell is money if you're not happy with the product you've put out?

I have found my voice and now I'm dedicating myself to sticking to it.

No matter how much I try, I cannot get passionate about anything except socially conscious science fiction. This is my genre. This is my calling. I'm done trying to write the black lesbian romance novel I want to read and "fluff." My heart is not in it. It is not in the cards for me. Though I believe I'm capable of writing all of the above, I am NOT passionate about it. So, I've decided to stop pursuing it.

Yes, this decision might cause me to lose out financial, but I have to make a choice. Write fluff and grow rich while feeling empty inside or write what I love and feel fulfilled and accomplished???

I've been blessed with an extremely sensitive soul, and interesting view of the world/voice, a way with words and charisma. I believe I've been given a special gift. I have the ability to take social ills and formulate them into thought-provoking narratives in the science fiction/fantasy genre. To my knowledge there hasn't been a Toni Morrison of science fiction (the way I describe myself in my head). This is it for me. This is what I was made to do. This is what I plan to do...even if it doesn't sell like mainstream fiction.

On another note...

I called the bank today and quit my job.

I have enough money to live on for at least three years without working if I monitor my spending. Though I wouldn't normally just up and quit a job without notice, I'm convinced that job, and the white people I encountered on an everyday basis, were some of the main sources of my anger and discontent. Not to mention I found it hard to come home and write after getting off work. Bottom line is my job at the bank had to go.

When I return to Atlanta I plan to move my money from the bank to the black owned bank I located in Atlanta (Georgia only has three black owned banks in the entire state). I want to support my own people rather than this big ass bank that's being raping the hell out of the economy and people of color for well over a century.

While riding the Amtrak I watched a documentary about a man named Booker Wright. His words in that documentary forced me to self-reflect...



This change in me is inspired by his words.

He managed to sum up exactly how many of us (black folks) feel. I'm done working for someone else. For now on I plan to work for myself. I plan to pursue my dreams. I plan to pursue happiness.
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