All, Journal, Writing

And I’m Here

I’m looking to simplify life; for, at thirty-one, I find life complex beyond need. 

In my quest to simplify life, what I am really after are my goals. 

I’ve found that as I’ve gotten older my priorities have changed. While writing has always been a thread of my life, from childhood to present, I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer; sure, I was a consumate reader from an early age, having spent many school lunch hours in the library or on the steps, where I read everything that captured my fancy (Mostly stories involving sailing or the sea.), and yes, I was fortunate to have had teachers who encouraged me to write, which led me to join the Navy at 17 as a journalist, but I didn’t really know I was a writer until around age twenty-eight (Four years into this blog), when my stories began to germinate and develop within me. Up until that point, I had only wanted to be a writer – but at that point, I knew, I was a writer – and I was meant to be a writer. 

The next few years I would navigate a big breakup, take a year off (Which I spent in large solitude, my afternoons volunteering at the library, my evenings on the shore before sunset, my nights reading.), and finally, I would fall back into love, into life. 

And then, seven months ago, at age thirty one, I moved to the mountains, where I planned to write and support myself doing freelance web work.

My desk made its way into my study with the feet removed, and one-hundred square feet of bookcase was constructed, my books neatly arranged on the shelves.  

Only, I did not write. 

My days were spent working on web projects for small, unreliable clients, and, having had Sarah quit her job when we moved here, I struggled to support us, despite the decreased expenses of life in a small mountain town. 

As anyone who has struggled financially knows, it is neither pleasant nor tolerable; although, it is endurable – meaning, it can be survived. Only, I am not much for simply enduring life, merely  surviving. 

That said, I wanted more; I wanted to eat my cake and have it too; I didn’t want to feel small, invisible, obscure: I wanted to regain the financial success I had at twenty-four. 

So I built a new business, a user-experience consultancy. 

It failed. Months down the drain. 

I tried again; thinking my hypothesis flawed, I revamped my business to focus on niche markets I felt I knew; however, my additional months efforts were in vain, and I failed again. 

Not a very fun feeling. But endurable. 

What could I do? 

I carried on, stoically, resiliently, wanting to love all that was fated for me – not wanting to struggle against life. Not wanting to suffer. Not wanting to let another seven months pass without making progress as a serious fiction writer – a novelist – or at least a novella-ist

At this point, we kind of catch up to now. 

I have a good relationship. I am loved. I am healthy. I’ve got a great fucking haircut. But yeah, none of that is really everything. Everything is the books. 

I’ve admittedly never possessed the patience for delayed gratification; however, wanting to make a life as a serious novelist, one has to commit to a long road. 

Also, having failed at building myself a business with which I could support the ideas I had about the life I wanted for myself (Entrepreneur / writer with a house in the Palisades.), I have been forced to re-imagine the path for myself as a writer. Now, I’ve rebuilt my personal consulting site, and I am willing to take the long way round – meaning, I’m willing to take the journey to get there. 

What this all means is that I have my work cut out for me, and until I am a proper working writer, I will be working and writing – however long that may take. 

It’s not necessarily the dream I had of having another successful business, which would allow me to write in relative comfort, but it’s the dream I have of being a writer that I am committing to – comforts and securities be damned. 

That’s not to say I won’t have security: I’ll sure as hell have a lot more than I’ve had in the course of attempting to build two unsuccessful businesses. lol. 

In making this shift, I am giving up great for good. 

To eventually be great.

That is what I want. 

I want to focus on simple goals: x consulting hours a week, x pages a day, x workouts a week. 

I recognize the aforementioned goals may seem rather drab – as if I am attempting to quantify happiness in boxes that I’ll check off. But it’s all very simple to me. 

I want to write. I want the security to write. I want to be healthy. I want to have a social life where I am valued by people I admire. 

I just want to do good, feel good. Be good. And I don’t mind living a simple, quiet, and disciplined life in order to get there. 

I just wish this hadn’t all taken me so long to figure out. But it did. And I’m here. 

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All, Journal, Poetry, Writing

To Dead Ambitions

Reflecting by the fire on lost time,
Mourning the me I had to let die
For in real life, it’s Batman or Master Wayne;
Like Wiz said: you gotta know your lane
And so, freed from inartistic wishes,
I dedicate this obit to dead ambitions

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All, fiction, Flashfiction, short fiction, Short Stories, Sudden Fiction, Writing

Short Fiction: The Exhumation (6 Min Read)

He stood upon the beach beside the seawall, bent over in the cold, gray light of dawn, laboriously digging that endless pit again. 

His hairless, sinewy fingers were painfully fixed around the smooth, well-worn handle of the old wooden shovel, which felt burdensome and awkward in his grip; each scoop of the dark, wet sand straining his tired, underdeveloped shoulders. 

As he dug, the waves crashed softly upon the shore, rolling and receding fifty paces before him, their sound dampened in the thick salt-laden fog. 

The pace at which he dug the wet sand brought forth large beads of sweat on his forehead that rolled down his temples, onto his cheeks, tickling his tanned face. 

He paused briefly to wipe his brow, anxiously aware that some awful, terrible doom had led him there, to a destiny from which he could not escape; although, from which he could awake – as he did every day following the same dream. 

It was only by coincidence, however, that he began to ponder the dream during his waking hours; for, like most people, he never considered dreams to be anything more than a mystery – a strange phantasm of the mind that required no more probing than ones own inner spirituality; his dreams merely were

That was, until he read about the body of a drowned swimmer found by a jogger in the early morning on a remote stretch of Maine coastline.

He came across the story while reading news at his desk one morning, a habit that ineffectually served to distract him from his work as a systems administrator in a large data center – a job he loathed, for he wanted nothing else but to be a writer. 

Only, he hadn’t any real ideas for stories, as nothing had heretofore captured his mind and compelled him to begin writing – until he came across the news story of the jogger discovering a body on the beach; that day, he decided: he would begin writing his first story. 

Driving home that night, he thought about the plot:

A man dreams repeatedly of digging on the beach in the early morning hours, and thinks nothing of it. Then, years later, he comes across a news story of a body that has just been exhumed from the beach near his house, and, while reading the story, his memories and his guilt return to him. 

What does he do? 

Does he turn himself in? 

Is his DNA found? 

He didn’t have answers but he felt the story burning inside him, demanding to be told. 

And so, that night, he announced to his wife Tara, that he would begin writing at once; his mornings were to be spent alone in his study, looking out his bay windows upon the bright, blue Pacific. 

This routine took. Soon, he had written about the dream, he had written about the news story, but the words stopped there. He was unable to pick the story up where his dream and the news story left off. And yet, he was still consumed with finishing what he started – more than ever. 

So, unable to write for lack of palpable inspiration, he began taking long morning walks along the shore near his home, where, barefoot, he would scout-out remote spots, where he would sit and imagine his character digging on the beach. 

Only, it wasn’t like his dreams: he was not digging, there was no fog. 

He imagined his story a film, needing the scene to be just so, in order that he might get into his character’s head; for the story needed to be understood to be finished – yet the dream had always simply left him digging, listening to the hush of the waves, peering through the fog.

Thus he began checking the NOAA website, keeping abreast of any shift in weather that might give him the right morning conditions.

Two months later, he saw a heavy coastal fog forecast. His shovel lay against the front gate, at the ready. 

He set his alarm for early the next morning; however, due to his excitement, he was unable to sleep – not a wink. All night he lay in bed thinking of the dream, deliciously, excitedly. 

As 5:45 rolled around, he quietly dressed, his wife still asleep when he left home and found himself enveloped in a thick April morning fog. 

The grey misty morning was a comfort to him. In it he felt serene, full of the peace of a man who knowingly follows his destiny. 

Grabbing the shovel on the way out, he trotted gaily toward the shore, like a fisherman headed for high tide. 

Walking quickly along the beach nearest the seawall, he arrived in fifteen minutes and stuck his shovel in the sand, where he was to perform his artistic ritual. Pausing for a moment, he surveyed his dig site, amazed that the foggy, gray dawn matched perfect his dream. 

Then he dug passionately, excitedly, clumsily. 

His progress was at first slow, but his pace increased as he continued. Each shovel-full of sand seemed to invigorate him, and his grip tightened on the smooth wood handle as his unpracticed-heaving grew more burdensome the deeper he dug; the weight of the heavy, wet sand now making his shoulders burn. 

He began to sweat, his clip matching the cadence of the rolling waves, his shovel, – the digging itself – now seeming to make the soft crashing sound he heard emanating from the shoreline ahead of him. 

His head began to itch. He kept shoveling. Sweat beaded and gathered at his hairline; however, he could not stop digging to wipe his brow, as he had in the dream; it was as if he feared waking up now; it was as if he needed to see it through to finish the story. His shoulders burned. His sweat itched. The waves rolled. The fog hung. 

He kept digging, madly now, and did not hear her approach. His bent figure, standing in the large hole he had dug, operated violently yet rhythmically, like an oil derrick pumping for ore. 

When she addressed him, he heard perhaps nothing at first, then his wife’s voice trying to wake him from his foggy dream, trying to steal him away from his destiny. 

Then she yelled, screamed, “Michael!”

He immediately twisted around, the momentum of the shovel driving his body toward her, its blunt steel edge striking her across the head with a dull thwack. 

His eyes widened and he dropped the shovel near in-sync with her body, which had gone limp and fallen to the sand without a sound.

He stretched his aching arms beside him and looked distantly upon his wife’s distorted face, as if in a dream. 

##

Author’s note: 

I am going to be publishing more short stories here, which I could not be happier to do. If you enjoy, please subscribe and share. Thank You – LB

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All, Journal, Writing

Welcome to The Woods

Four weeks and two days ago, I left the city that never loved me; for I had to leave: I had to fall deeper, further into love – and closer to a pattern of life befitting a serious writer. 

Sarah, life partner and best friend she is, naturally loved the idea of living in the woods for a year with me. It was, after all, our idea. 

But it wasn’t our first idea; we were planning to move to LA – only fate would have it otherwise, and our plans would change just a week before we were slated to take up residence in a cheap AirBNB in LA for two weeks (Giving us enough time to find a permanent residence).

It was a solid plan, but it just didn’t feel right. 

So, sitting in bed together, as we are now, Sarah doing her thing, me mine, we began to discuss the idea of somewhere not LA. 

Price was a big factor. Frankly, we wanted a home. 

A day or two before, I had looked on Craigslist at homes in a handful of rural Midwest cities. The prices made me swoon; however – besides the fact I had already done the Midwest – I knew it wasn’t in the cards. Call it inner voice. As I said to Sarah last night, all my biggest mistakes have been the result of listening to other people. Today, I listen to me. Fuck you. 

So we zoomed out on google maps in bed that evening: looking first in South LA, then east toward Nevada, then north to the Oregon border, until finally – after the longest thirty minutes of our life – we landed on a small Califonia mountain town, and then something magical happened: we got excited. 

Why? I don’t know. It was just the right place. Something inside us felt calm. Just the way it feels to be here this evening, looking out our bedroom across the deck and onto the National Forest. 

We came here from a small apartment where we had barely managed to stay together through the newness of our relationship. We truthfully were barely sure of what we were doing. 

But we did it. 

We drove up on a Friday to see the place, returning directly to pack our entire apartment on the following Saturday, and then, four Sundays ago, we towed our car behind a uhaul up here, which was an adventure in itself. 

We blew a tire. We had to stop to load a double stainless fridge into the uhaul in 110 degree heat, and we had barely slept for two days. 

Our relationship was road tested on the trip up. Lord knows it had been battle tested in the city where we met. In that tiny apartment. Those fucked up people. That city. San-dago: you fucking overhyped transplant filled millennial shithole. 

Needless to say, we are happier here. Much. 

Sarah quit her job. I got my writing room. And we both get to call the first true house we have ever lived in together, home.  

It has been an incredible experience these four weeks, full of stories I will be sharing soon in the form of a collection of non-fiction episodes published here. 

This weekend we will be hosting the first of a series of guests scheduled to visit us, and we look forward to firing up the BBQ, looking up at the stars, and thinking back on the darkest nights. Nights when moving to the woods to write novels was only a dream. Nights when we had nothing but each other and a dream. 

And LA, it will still be there. Waiting for me to arrive. Waiting for my stories. Waiting on the day when we take up part time residence – our cabin here waiting for us. Because we live in the woods now. Because this is home. 

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Non-Fiction 

If I had to choose between writing and sex, I’d choose pen over penis eight days a week. Why I’ve gone with such a seemingly daft metaphor, I know all too clearly; for my writing is growing into as compulsory an act as masturbating was for me at fifteen, only I’ve no Portnoy’s Complaint  – quite the contrary in fact; if I don’t write, I’ll be riddled with guilt, which in many ways I am, owing to the fact that my fiction remains less than fiction: it’s fairy dust. And until I dedicate myself to the the four manuscripts living rent free in my head, that’s all it will ever be. I don’t have to search long and hard to discover there exists no more tragic fact about me. 

I am, however, working to remedy this; only, I need be honest with myself: if I have one regret about my previous entry, it’s that I veiled my feelings in prose, which can be incredibly false. Not that I intended to do so, only I did nonetheless. And it was false because I wrote of courage and becoming oneself, and the undeniability of my identity as a writer – without talking about the pain. 

The pain being almost the central fact of my existence; precisely what’s got me up in bed, writing this word by word at three thirty am. My how incredibly angst ridden I am. 

At thirty one, I’ve managed to fortify myself with world class skills in a technical field I care naught for. I have actually failed in my field as a result of my lack of passion (That or fate). 

Wanting – needing – to write desperately, I have two options: take a high paying job, or make a go at the one thing I have been successful with in a related field. Of course there is always a third option. I’ll get to that.

As passionless as I am about the business of moneymaking, which every adult knows is all consuming, it’s my passion as a writer that haunts me. Then there are the excuses: If I was single. If I had committed myself to writing fiction at a younger age. If I had financial independence. 

Same shit countless frauds like me probably say to themselves. And I feel a fraud. Absofuckknglutely. 

Three years ago I went through a terrible breakup and simultaneously nearly died of blood poisoning, which I had contracted on a business trip (Misery is strippers and steaks with insurance industry execs in Ohio). After that I smoked some DMT, took some LSD (God no not at the same time!), and awoke fully to myself being a writer. And I was in some ways for a time. I allowed myself the freedom to fall into dire financial straits, and I slept around like a nihilist pig; however, when I was sober I spent my time reading more novels than I had since I was fourteen (Having read non-fiction almost exclusively for years). I also amassed a personal library that can be said to belong only to a writer, owing both to its copious volume and eclectic contents (My tastes I will not comment on). 

During this period of freedom and bacchanalia, I also began to spend much more time alone and in nature – more than I had since a child. I filled a few journals cover to cover, and I got to know myself in ways I never had. This blog also served me well – as a kind of cloud drive to upload all of the new software my consciousness was running on. 

Of course, I wouldn’t be Lawrence Black if I didn’t find love again. Talk about a whirlwind [love]. It’s not unlike what I imagine heroin or some mind numbing opiate to be like: blindingly comforting and then you wake up months later wondering what the fuck happened, and suddenly you remember yourself and begin facing how much you lost touch with You in trying to please the muse. This I am most guilty of. 

I want it all. Fuck me. Unfortunately there are only twenty four goddamn hours in a day, and I certainly do not possess the bandwidth to write code and push pixels all day long, in addition to writing. As Stephen King writes in On Writing: life is not a support system for art – it’s the other way around. 

This I am figuring out how to arrange – no matter how much pluck and daring it requires. Lord knows – well, in this case, my girlfriend knows – that I am committed to my art above all. And by my art, I mean my inner peace. The shit that allows me to stay sane. 

So, what will Lawrence do next? 

I know this much: I will be honest. Not thinking about what some heartless or shallow ex who may reads this thinks of my life. I’m done with that ego mindfuck. If I am to be, I am to be honest about my life in my own writing. 

In ten days I may be living in a cabin in the woods, or I may be crashing on a floor or a couch. Fuck if I care either way. All I know is that I must write. Because not writing fiction is killing me. And I can’t write any more fiction here. 

– Oh yeah, that third option. Well, I may be doing menial technical work but I need my mental bandwidth for greater things, and I know a place with cheap cabins.

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All, Journal, MyFavoritez, Poetry, Timeless Truths, Writing

Reimagining 

Have the courage to stop the world and start over at two am,
While the night is still and your days may yet be seized;
Have the courage to use your dreams as metaphors for the things you truly want:
Reimagining your life as one does who has become brave enough to see heroes as peers rather than role models


David Foster Wallace, (Whom, like Kerouac, I cannot really read for fear of going insane) said something to Rolling Stone’s David Lipsky about how of course in the end, we end up becoming ourselves. The statement was about growing up and the futility of our parent’s worries about who we will become in light of the inevitability of who we ultimately are. 

I find it deeply calming to reflect on this – the idea that we end up becoming ourselves; it reminds me that I am becoming who I was meant to be – not just despite my mistakes, but because of them. 

Without this, this idea that I am becoming myself, then it’s all a waste (Funny how I once thought I couldn’t fail at anything); however, I trust life: it has taken me this far, given me this clear a picture; and finally, at thirty one, I’m beginning to feel that there is a pattern to my life, one in which I am destined for certain things and bound to suffer in vain pursuit of others. And it has been in my failures, in vain pursuits, that I have discovered the futility of following roads not meant for me. 

I suppose I feel there is simply no longer any escaping or denying who I am. Lord knows I tried. Heaven fuck I tried Bunny, Mousie. 

Thankfully it is not dreams of soul and passion that have perished but merely the ideas my ego had concocted to give myself some false importance at not doing the thing I was born to do. If I am being obtuse it’s simply my way of not wanting to outline what it’s like to spend ten thousand hours on a diversion. Not that the time invested will go unused, just that it’s no more than financial potential. But the goal of my life was never about just money. And perhaps that’s where I betrayed myself…. Trails off

Life is a great, grand adventure – in which I am the hero. And true, I’m not a very likable one. But no plausible hero is – at least none capable of inspiring me. Commonplace is the contentment that fills the days of the bourgeois; however, there shall be no longer the air of quiet desperation in my hours; I banish despair from my bones. Simply in writing, simply in reflecting –  in trusting life, and in being honest with myself. Simply in reimagining myself to be who I wish. 

Because you can also fail at what you don’t want.  

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Ruminating 

Knowing now what I do, I face extrordinary dilemmas. 

The knowing I refer to, being the fact that all is possible within the governing laws of order and chaos. For even kings are subject to the laws of  nature. 

The dilemma being the fact that time and tide wait for no man. But ’tis better to set a false course than none at all; however, best to make sure. 

So that’s what I’m thinking about. 

Courses, possibilities, the call of distant stars; measuring that which is best to reach. 

Thirty is such an age when men may do these things; at least, for me, I have never before weighed possibilities out against the sands of time, as I now do. 

Age. The clock continues to strike, moving closer to midnight on some dreams than others. 

I can always be forty and build businesses – striving for the empire in which I can catch my reflection in the mirror and say fuck you, I made it to those who never thought I would. 

I can always be forty and American. It’s thirty that flees, reminding me, as I near closer thirty one, that I cannot dig these days back out. 

These are the years. 

There’s just something inherent within the power of choice I have today, telling me to choose wisely. Reminding me I want XYandZ in the coming years more than I want ABandC. 

I rounded out my previous entry with words on eating cake and having it too, but a man must know what brioche is – lest he spend his days chasing bread. 

I heard something in my twenties once to the effect of: how a man spends his days is how he spends his life. These are my days, this my life; am I chasing bread or baking brioche?

I had, until recently, a great and terrible freedom: no wife and no kids. Great for I had no ties, and terrible for I yearned for them. And, while I do not at present have a wife, I do have something akin to one. Thus, the terrible longing for a dearest friend is again over, but the other side of the coin shines light on new great and terrible truths. Great because I have ties – terrible for they are not yet bound. The second part, the fear, owing to the fact that I did not buy my wife as an established man does. She loves me for me alone, but I must make sure she knows what she is bargaining for. When a woman imagines marrying a writer, I do not think she imagines the verb inherent to the noun. Perhaps I ought come with a disclaimer: whiskey: yes, dinner parties: hopefully (Thankfully, the latter is still within reach). 

At the library where I work as a part time volunteer, there is a man who strikes me as very nice. Myself, being a writer, have of course invented – or at least invented in this moment – a story about him, for I do not know him well. The story goes, this nice man, being smart and more interesting than most, wanted to be a writer – he fancied himself so. Only, he did something else. Maybe a long romance, maybe a career in engineering, maybe both. Only, neither worked out beyond maintaining his lifestyle, which is to say, the quality of life he felt owed. So, at thirty nine or maybe forty two, he left the job, lost the girl, maybe a year of despondency ensued, but then he got smart and honest about who he was. So, he took up his library position, and started writing on those days off. And maybe he even wrote in the mornings too, only that didn’t last given the resistance of middle age to new habits. But just maybe he finished his book. Let’s say he did. So, he sends it to publishers, enclosed in the bright lavender envelope all the pipe-dream directed writing books tell you to use. Only, the book was no good. Watching 10 seasons of Law And Order in his thirties dulled his characterizations, and his story, about a guy who walked away from it all at thirty to write, was uninteresting at best. So tonight he lumbers into his apartment bed, bleary eyed from Netflix, and he tells himself, at fifty, I shall travel. 

Just maybe; it is certainly not an unbelievable tale. 

Thankfully, I am thirty – but still, the tale, albeit fictional, is not unrelatable for me. It’s a cautionary myth, concocted in my own head to remind me that time is the most precious asset I have. 

So I am here, writing and ruminating on the truest course toward the brightest star. 

Unfortunately, I’ve never been much for seeking or following parental advice, and the men I wish I could seek the counsel of, my grandfathers, are as stone dead today as they were upon my birth, which may in itself be telling, for the men in my family, excepting my father at sixty-odd years, have not been long for this world. Not to say I do not feel I am, but as much as I pine to one day be a grandfather, I’m not yearning for my seventies, nor am I excited about life much beyond the coming few decades, which, given my genealogical research, may be all I have left, making thirty middle aged for me, and deeper relating myself to the relic of a writer tale, which I mythologized above. 

Like I said, I am facing extrordinary dilemmas. Life is not one of those choose your own adventure stories in which all avenues may be explored without the immovable, chronological weight of time. 

Unlike the Duke Ellington record, which I now have gotten up to replay the A side of four times, my thirties are a one way ticket. No B side, no telling Sam to play it again. Like the beer I picked up tonight, it’s one and done. Thankfully, the beer is 22 ounces, and my thirties  ten years long. Only, I know I can’t be thirty six and be making a first go at sending off that lavender envelope. I know my story in the pulsings of my blood, and that’s not how it goes. 

There is another, well-known, mythologized tale of the would be writer. It’s the tale of the guy who always had that great screenplay or novel in him, but there was always an excuse. The timing was just never right to write. But then finally, it was, he had the desk and library (Ahem, both my library and my desk are absolute tits – thank you very much). Only, when he sat down to write, it was all in vain. His dreams were perhaps more of the noun and less of the verb – more dinner parties for ten than whiskey for one. 

Of course, as all real (See: published) writers will tell you, the timing is never right. The time to write is now and every goddamn day you consume oxygen on this bloody planet. Unfortunately most wannabes want the lifestyle rather than the life. 

I am reminded of the ancient words, imploring me to be rather than to seem. 

Only, it’s all very meta now; I write yes, but I am no different than one who writes Harlequin novels; it’s all masturbation and no nipple biting. I write about writing, yet I do not write as a writer does, I merely find secondhand outlet. And it’s all very tiring and unsatisfying. 

So, I’ll lumber off to slumber, knowing that at thirty one, I’ll be a writer. 

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Weighing My Conscience

It is nice to be writing tonight; lately, I’ve been writing more out of compulsion and less out of habit, thus it’s felt more the product of requirement rather than inspirement, which to me is a constant.

I am always the writer.

This is who I am.

I am first and foremost Lawrence Black the writer – all else is a distant second: son, brother, lover, friend – everything else is secondary to the verb I enjoy most. This thing, it’s me. And I loathe myself for not making it my one love. I loathe myself for valuing love and success and accomplishment and satisfaction to the thing I was born to do.

I am the Peter Pan of the pen game, a lost boy, full of pixie dust; however, unlike Peter Pan, I do grow up – and I am.

Thirty. Fuck me. I am not looking to be that thirty five year old working on his “novel”. Fuck me.

So, this thing calls; the muse pulls and commands me to abide, which I happily do tonight. Only, this is not enough.

I remember reading Thomas Wolfe’s Of Time and The River last year, which is essentially a quasi-autobiography in which Wolfe details his – or rather Eugene Gant’s – journey from boy to writer. Something akin to Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, in which Joyce, as Stephen Dedalus, finally wanders off in exile, declaring: “I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”

For what is the soul but a smithy, a forge, in which I, in my twenties, founded the basis upon which I now write: loves and dreams and holding on and letting go.

For it is me: I live this life essentially alone; yes, I have Sarah – the woman whom I love and I am making this life with – but nothing is promised.

I find it simply mind blowing that humans, the singular species capable of altruism, can be so survivalist in their relationships; however, I suppose the question answers itself in my existence.

We had to get here somehow. So we broke a few hearts on the way to this omelette, just a few eggs; the strongest surely survive. I have.

I just can’t shake the weight of fate from my shoulders, the sense of who I am. My pesonal sense of destiny. The singular force stronger than my own will.

It’s the one thing that has kept me going: the idea that I, Lawrence dot Black, am a person who must become himself. In the too-apt, almost cliche, words of Abraham Maslow: “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.”

So I am here, “Shakespearing” – as I like to refer to it, and as I did prior to leaving Sarah in our bed to come out on the balcony and write tonight.

It drives me fucking crazy to be thirty. I’m like an atomic bomb waiting to go off. I am nothing but unborn potential, and it’s maddening. You can’t imagine being me, knowing your ego is misunderstood and but a foreshadow of what is to come. Maddening.

But this sense of destiny calms me: the certainty that this will all make sense one day, it is a fantastic balm. But it doesn’t make it any more comfortable.

It’s no less maddening to know you will one day be great than to hope; for neither is a tangible feeling, just the lust. The lust for the life you were born for. I felt it at thirty; a fire in my belly began to smolder, burning deep and hot as hunger. Only, I knew; I learned that there was no way my life could have been any different. I wouldn’t have the depth I do, nor the curiosity “to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”

I think art – good art – is as required as good sex. At least, in the human psyche, the alternatives are absolutely damnable – causing us to focus on the things that don’t matter, rather than that which does. And I wonder about this thing, the analogousness of the two: art and sex. For both surely exist for the sake of one another, as the painter must paint, seeking the deepest artistic purpose for which he was born, so too must he find his deepest biological purpose in his art. And he finds the cause for each in each other. In art, he finds love, and in love, art.

It’s an intense thing to know yourself. But when you know what makes you tick, so too must you wind the watch and tune each gear to its proper movement.

And tonight, I feel the proper coordinates aligning within me; I feel the pulsings of my blood in my keystrokes; I can feel my feet striking their proper path in the sands of time, bearing down on a due course to oblivion, leading me toward the desire to feel more and more alive each day before I die.

Is this not what we want, to feel more alive.

I do.

There are persons and places and things to which, when I am connected most to, I feel most alive. Sex, writing, solitude – yes, the soul needs its intercourse too. And perhaps this is what writing gives me: the ability to get fucked good and hard by my passions.

I’m sure the preceding only makes sense to artists, but it is solely for myself to whom I write. This is all one giant letter to my soul, begging Peter Pan to come out and play.

He must.

If I am to be at peace with myself, I must.

But it’s not feeling less alive, that we seek in solitude and together, it is feeling less lonely, which we truly desire.

I have always connected deeply to the following words of David Wallace:

“Fiction is one of the few experiences where loneliness can be both confronted and relieved. Drugs, movies where stuff blows up, loud parties — all these chase away loneliness by making me forget my name’s Dave and I live in a one-by-one box of bone no other party can penetrate or know. Fiction, poetry, music, really deep serious sex, and, in various ways, religion — these are the places (for me) where loneliness is countenanced, stared down, transfigured, treated.”

I relate so deeply to this.

I have always been rather lonely. These words strike my heart as a smith does a hammer to the forge. Ding, ding, ding. Hot sparks. Truth, ringing loud and clear in the soul – as it always does.

If I am ever to be known, if I am ever to be less lonely, if my lover and my family and friends are ever to know me, I must write.

Period.

Dramatics aside, this is my truth.

No one, not even my exes, will ever know me without my work.

Without my giving a body to my soul, I will forever be a lost boy.

But this is not sad. This fact is a relief. This fact is balm, for it is part of my sense of destiny.

I am Lawrence Black, the writer. But I do not write as writers do. Yes, I do have a body to my work: TBD, 12FEB, HH, ATS, all these stories have been born and live within me. But it is so lonely to alone know them. It is so lonely to alone know myself.

Thirty years old, and I and my stories so unknown; although, I know it truly, that I could not have been any quicker to bloom. As a novelist in my twenties, I would have been an arrogant, talentless snot.

Osmosis. Absorption. The reading has been, and is, as important as the writing.

I refrain from naming names, only I will: Aurelius, Hugo, Steinbeck, Emerson, Shakespeare, Dickens, these men are brothers to me. I do not care of their existence for vanities, how they looked or how great their beards or homes were, these are mere facades, which I care no more for then the bearded God of my youth. I care only for their works. All else is secondary.

But age, the time and pressure and form giving way to me, remains a weight.

Thirty. Please, please let me become.

Do not give way to vanities, to comforts. To the things that do not matter.

My stories, the shaping of unborn consciences, are of paramount importance to my own.

And it kills me not to gestate them daily; for I am fairly formed and they wait.

And I, for what?

Deadlines. Well, eventually there will be no more. But some must be set. Internally.

So, I wrote this tonight: to kindle the fire beneath my own ass. For no one else will. It is me. I must write, I must become, I must level up in this game of life, giving no weight to consciences not aligned with my own. Those who may make a stranger of me as freely as one would a friend, must be weighed duly. And I suppose it is my own conscience that I weigh tonight, for it is heavy.

Heavy with the weight of my stories, but also heavy with the weight of sapphire stone, and houses, and cars, and boats, and things for which only my ego cares. But I must have both; for I refuse to believe my path must follow another, that I am unable to have my brioche and eat it too.

So I reconcile. I write and I remind myself that I am Lawrence Black, and that in due time, all will be.

For I know. In my heart of hearts, I know. They do not, but I do.

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A Sweeter Sin: Wilder Dreams

Returning to writing after spending the past few weeks living my life – in many ways as I never before have – feels faintly like an act of infedility against the one I love, whom I have been busy living with; however, this is no act of indescretion; this is what I do. I write. 

Only, writing feels different now. 

Despite the sweet sin of writing being recently displaced by another, sweeter sin, I still find a glorious joy in the act of composing my thoughts into prose. And perhaps it is the very act of enjoying a pleasure without the other true pleasure in my life, which causes me to draw such a foolish conclusion; however, there is no need for this man to feel he is missing the mark; for a mere twenty paces from this fairy-tale-lit-balcony, whereupon I am writing tonight under a string of lights near our garden, sleeps the woman I have chosen to spend forever with. 

And, yes, my words are – to borrow lyrics from Jimi Hendrix – bold as love. 

But at thirty, I know what love is. 

And to borrow a page from Buddhist philosophy: love is wanting another to be happy. 

And I am – as I never before have been capable of. 

As I said to Sarah tonight: “I was prepared for failure, but I was planning for happiness.”

Yes: happiness has prevailed. 

And I will be the first to tell you: 

I deserve this. 

I have been through the dark night of the soul, which my writing stands testament to, and I have done the inner work a man must do to face his inner depths, which again, my writing is a testimony of. And now, I expect the next six months of my writing to be a kind of letter from my soul to my ego, explaining how wilder dreams have come to be. 

I would be lying if I said I ever could have imagined finding a woman who just got me. And I too would be lying if I said I don’t feel a haunting tinge of guilt at being this happy, this healthy, this free. 

The onion peels yet further back; and this is why I write: to peel onions where tears do not flow – to heal the parts of me that have never before been this at home. 

My life – our life –  Sarah and I – we are a miracle. 

And I pray on the off chance the priestesses – the past goddesses I have prayed to or upon alters I built – on the off chance you are reading this, I hope you are happy for me. If you are: you love me – as I you, as I would want for your happiness – and if you do not: then you do not, and I nonetheless wish you the best.  

Period. Next paragraph.

It was Shakespeare, the great bard, who spoke of sweet sin in the tale of Romeo and Juliet, and who wrote that, the course of true love never did run smooth. 

But I disagree; for I know better

For our love is easy. 

And, as my sister taught me, healthy relationships are. Not to say, exclusively, that in my decade plus of luck-in-love (AKA – being a good fucking person) that I have not had a healthy relationship, but, rather, that I have not been this healthy. 

It takes a long time to become the one. 

And all I know of God, and of Love – and of the Universe in myself – has taught me that, life contains lessons that must be learned for the sake of the soul.

Only, most of us are dead to our inner voices, which is why I write: to hear my own [inner voice], and to show others what a human life looks like, when lived with a measure of bravery.

Because I live and I love from the heart, and I know I have made mistakes – but I also know that I didn’t know any better, and neither did you.

Period. Next chapter. 

 

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Real Life Inspiration: Ed Ricketts

I heard an anecdote recently in relation to John Steinbeck (Prayerhand-6god-emoji) guy pal (And total bad ass) Ed Ricketts (Add another prayerhand-6god-emoji).

EFRicketts_42

Ricketts, photo taken aged 43 in 1939.

Ed Ricketts is a man whom I deeply admire. He was, like all the people I admire, a stark individual.

“His mind had no horizons,” as Steinbeck wrote of him, or rather, as “Doc”, the Ricketts inspired beer-loving bohemian science-philosopher who cut himself out of the granite-like sardine-packing population of “whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches.”

Yeah, Ed Ricketts was a fucking cool guy.

Perhaps one of the coolest who ever lived. Ricketts is most definitely one of my “spiritual grandfathers”. In fact, he inspired another spiritual grandfather of mine: the great mythologist, Joseph Campbell.

Essentially Ed Ricketts = Star Wars.

And if you get that reference, you might actually be kind of cool too.

If you didn’t, hold on tight.

So, the anecdote with Ricketts is that he basically learned how to like himself through others. He got the idea that if other people could like Ed, then Ed could like Ed.

So he did.

And from the myriad legacy he left, we can only surmise that his comfort in his own skin made it very easy for others to like him. And I can surmise this, because I know the opposite to also be true: having experienced how discomfort in one’s skin ultimately manifests itself in ways that strangely serve to push others away.

I actually, as a treat, just found the Ricketts anecdote, which is from perhaps the man who knew best knew Ed: Steinbeck.

The story is quoted verbatim from the philosophy laden ‘The Log of The Sea of Cortez’, Steinbeck’s 1940 month long inward journey with Ed, then aged 44, to the Mexican sea of the same name:

Once Ed said to me, “For a very long time I didn’t like myself.” It was not said in self-pity but simply as an unfortunate fact. “It was a very difficult time,” he said, “and very painful. I did not like myself for a number of reasons, some of them valid and some of them pure fancy. I would hate to have to go back to that. Then gradually,” he said, “I discovered with surprise and pleasure that a number of people did like me. And I thought, if they can like me, why cannot I like myself? Just thinking it did not do it, but slowly I learned to like myself and then it was all right.” This was not said in self-love in its bad connotation but in self-knowledge. He meant literally that he had learned to accept and like the person “Ed” as he liked other people. It gave him a great advantage. Most people do not like themselves at all. They distrust themselves, put on masks and pomposities. They quarrel and boast and pretend and are jealous because they do not like themselves. But mostly they do not even know themselves well enough to form a true liking. They cannot see themselves well enough to form a true liking, and since we automatically fear and dislike strangers, we fear and dislike our stranger-selves.

So, Ed is helping me like myself in the very same way that I can like an admire my friends – only, I get to be less critical of myself now. haha

Sadly, Ed died too young. But he made sure to live before he did. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

You’ve really inspired me Ed.

Thank You.

This past weekend I was up in Monterey (Guest of a girl I have been trying to date), and seeing the life-sized versions of Ed’s lab and some of his things, just really made me feel blessed. I’m just grateful to have found people I can admire and look up to in the ways that they too once looked up to their own little ambitious and upstart part of themselves.

Because I really am. I’m looking up to things that feel true in myself.

And it’s really nice. It’s nice to finally be at home with myself, where there are no horizons.

horizons

“His mind had no horizons.”

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To Be Okay

https://soundcloud.com/cderamos/brian-eno-the-big-ship

This year I have become myself.

Or, maybe, I have just crystallized into something whole, maybe I simply feel complete now that I know that this is as whole as I will ever be. alone.

And in all my solitude, in all my hours burning candles, in all my facing of myself, I’ve finally become someone who does not need anyone else to validate my own existence.

Lawrence Black: serial monogamist. Wannabe prince to those who shall remain nameless, those who are now blameless, to those who are, in my estimation, at least, changeless and perfect. And I lived through them, I saw myself through their eyes – for better and then for worse – until the bitter end.

And between those starts and ends, I was never a man unto myself, I was never okay – just okay – I was never okay; I was never okay – not on my own, at least.

And now I am [okay].

Now I am living through myself for the first time.

And for the first time, I am living for myself.

For this life is mine.

It is a wondrous thing to be okay, to know that regardless of whether or not anyone else does, that you yourself know, you know who you are; for to know who you are is to be okay.

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Goodnight Moon

Each day, we have but one day.

And reality is as real in the moment as it is false in others.

Sometimes, we merely need different mirrors in order to see beyond ourselves.

This weekend I saw beyond my own [mirrors], which gave me a glimpse into my future – the life I want.

And this life is mine.

I no longer wish to be smart. I no longer desire to impress myself.

All I want is honesty.

All I love is beauty.

And the only beauty is in being honest with yourself.

Goodnight moon.

 

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