Wow, two days in a row with the blog posts. Ya’ll are gonna start thinking I’m on top of my game if I keep that pace up. I make jokes, but in all seriousness I am going to make the effort to update this thing several times a week, moving forward. I know, I know, empty promises of a similar nature have been made in the past. But really, you will be hearing more from me, wait and see.
Things have been changing. Big changes. Alter-the-landscape-of-every-single-day-of-your-life-at-the-base-level changes. I completed my MFA. We moved to Seattle for Jazz’s new job. Somewhere in there I said goodbye to my jiu-jitsu students, and the gym I worked three hard years to build. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it feels like a part of me is missing right now. So much of my identity is still caught up in being a teacher, in trying to be a good leader and example. More than that I just really miss the process of teaching several times a day and all the human connection it provided. It made me a new man. A better man. I don’t intend to go backwards from here. I need a new tool like that to shape myself with.
So far I love Seattle, but it’s a big city and has a reputation for being a hard place to make new connections. I thrive on human connection. It’s a giant part of my personality, and I think it comes from the same place in my soul that whatever writing ability I have comes from. I’m driven to connect with people. To help them, to understand them, and to speak for them. Right now my life is focused on fighting for myself, for my dream of becoming a successful full-time writer. But as Ernest Hemingway famously said in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, “Writing is, at its best, a lonely life.” Of all the things I have heard said on the subject, this one rings the most true for me. I’m not designed to sit alone in a room all day lost in my own mind. That takes me to dark places. Places I don’t belong anymore.
If the creative process is any indication, whatever god that is out there in the universe is probably pretty lonely (Here’s the part of the post where I get super self-indulgent and piny and weepy, so hang in there, dear reader). Because creating is lonely. When you write fiction you create your own universes, and you spend hours and days and months in those unreal places, maybe sitting in the same physical room as other people some of that time, but always stuck between the two worlds, which are not aware of each other. As much a passive observer as an active creator in either one, really, and always on the wrong side of the thin veil between physical reality and creative possibility. Only an inch from the action, yet unable to ever be a part of it fully. After a while you start to feel like you’re on the outside of both worlds, looking in. I don’t want that to be my reality, but I love to write, so I’m always seeking a balance.
For a long time now teaching jiu-jitsu has balanced this feeling for me, and helped create harmony in my life. It gave me a place to channel my excessive energy (and believe me, it is EXCESSIVE), while helping others and doing what I love in the process. I believe that teaching and sharing information and understanding are invaluable endeavors, though ironically very hard to monetize. I’m not sure what I will do now that teaching is no longer a major focus in my life. I really do feel the void. It feels a little like someone died.
But this feeling is the nature of change. If I’ve learned anything from jiu-jitsu, it’s been to have courage, to go with the flow, and to apply my energy as efficiently as possible in all positions. It feels like life is testing me. It’s part of the process. I intend to grade well, come hell or high water. The manuscript rejections are rolling in. The job applications are rolling out. The loneliness is setting in.
I’m afraid that the things I have spent so long mastering have no value out on the market, but I’m resolved to do them anyway, and to do them well. I don’t want to subscribe to anyone else’s version of myself. But most of all, I believe in what I’m capable of, even if it’s a vision that is hard for other people to see just yet. It’s not easy. It’s never over. But somewhere in this struggle the things I want the most are floating around, always just an inch or a step out of reach. When I catch them I’m going to burn very, very bright. Believe that. I do.