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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 Casting Spells

Thinking about the future; using goals as gamification (reward): asking myself exactly what it is I want out of life. 

My artistic goals are set in stone; however, I am a renaissance man: thus the breadth of my interests and desires begs more than artistic success. 

And regardless of my writing goals, it would be senseless of me to disregard the years of experience I have as a ux-designer, marketer, and front-end dev. I am humbly proud to say, I am fucking good at what I do. Besides, I am already working on three businesses that leverage those skills and it would be foolish not to see them to fruition – after all, monetary success is a beautiful thing: it both sanitizes and renews. 

But I do ask myself, how much is enough?

Ironically, I watched Scorcese’s Aviator tonight – that is, up until Howard Hughes’ character became a shell of a man and my interest waned; however, the movie was nonetheless a great muse for tonight’s writing – and for myself, as a man of ambition and potential. 

In the film, we watch as Hughes devolves from a powerful visionary – a man of youth and passion – into a hollow, paranoid agoraphobic. 

Clearly, the man had some mental health struggles, and, in later years, physical issues as well, both contributing in no small-part to his eventual deterioration; however, fortunate as I am at 31, I don’t expect a similar fate for myself; although, I have absolutely no moral conundrums amassing a fortune.

There’s certainly no rule in life that says, ‘You cannot be a wealthy businessman and a famous author‘.  

I used to think that art came first – that it was spiritually paramount to make art – as if somehow business endeavors were a barrier to that.

But believe me, I’ve tried the starving artist thing, and even with a room of ones own, poverty is not conducive to writing in this day and age. 

For me, the life of the entrepreneur-writer-philosopher seems to fit best.

Lawrence Black is an American entrepreneur, writer, and philosopher. He is the author of ——– and ——– , and maintains ownership interests in several tech companies he has founded.

These are words I recite in front of the mirror, a kind of Stoic / Cognitive exercise I perform that allows me to zoom out on my story and see things from a grander, more elegant perspective. 

It is modeled on the idea of my future Wikipedia entry, serving as sort of cliff’s notes on who I am, and its purpose is to remind me of my destiny, my potential. 

I find it a fantastic method for bolstering my confidence and strengthening my identity; for I am most-certainly someone who believes in my own sense of destiny. This is why I write. 

And sure, there are novels unfinished – but this is my story. 

And I write it because it’s part of the magic, the alchemy I do – casting spells – spelling out my future – weaving the tapestry of my life with intention and purpose. 

And in doing so, I become more definite, more sure; becuase, if I didn’t meant it, I wouldn’t write it

And I, of all people, know the story can always be re-written. 

So follow your folly. Trust life. Cast spells. And don’t be afraid to think out-loud; for your desires are not false hopes, and life is but a game won by definiteness of purpose backed by definiteness of plans. 

With that, I bid you goodnight.

Sow well my friends. 

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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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A Sunk Cost: Letting Bygones be Bygones

Before I commence the purpose for which I have set to write upon tonight, I wish to offer a caveat; you see, I was recently told by a dear acquaintance that my writing was good,’…although I sometimes rambled.’ And while I call myself a writer, it is not under the banner of my blog that I do so. This blog is all a letter to myself, a journal, a message in a bottle to future self and progeny. And aside from occasional trysts with poetry, I do not pretend any of this is art – nor do I represent it as such; however, as someone who owns books containing the private letters of some of my favorite writers (Published postmortem), I know that a writer will be judged by his words as well as his works.

That said, I wish to be appraised as a writer upon my coming works of fiction, which, aside from my Love and my Family, my life is dedicated to.

So if I ramble, I make no apologies for it; for I think it the most natural thing in the world.


Vanities and insecurities aside, I am sitting down to write tonight to put the past where it belongs.

A few days ago, while laying in bed on a lazy Saturday day, I turned to Sarah, and asked her to look up the definition of “A sunk cost”. From whence this idea came, I knew not (At the time); however, in the particular state of consciousness I was in, I felt it pertinent to pay attention to what had arisen in my psyche from the depths within.

A sunk cost, we discovered, is a finance term denoting a cost, which, once incurred, is irrecoverable and therefore should not be considered when making future decisions.

I immediately connected the dots in my psyche to the past; for what is the past but something we cannot recover and therefore should not be considered when making future decisions.

For what is the past but something we cannot recover and therefore should not be considered when making future decisions.

A few days later, after coffee, conversation, and dessert, Sarah and I walked around the neighborhood where we had ventured to spend our evening, and I suddenly realized where I had come across the concept of a sunk cost.

In my favorite poem, Bygones, Marina Keegan wrote:

The middle of the universe is here, is tonight,
And everything behind is a sunk cost
Lost in our oceans and our oceans are deep.

We looked up the poem on the spot and the above verse confirmed the dots my unconscious mind had remembered – words, which until then had no conscious meaning to me.

Only before connecting these dots, I had no proper metaphor for letting bygones be bygones.

But once I did, I realized the past was all a sunk cost.

And, unlike Faulker wrote in Requiem For a Nun, of the past being “not even past”, I realized the past was dead, kept alive until then, until now, by the idea that it somehow could be recovered, ala Jay Gatz.

And now, I know that it is simply a sunk cost – and therefore should not be considered for future decision making.

How I wished I had learned this sooner. But, I did not.

So tomorrow I will awake knowing that today is a sunk cost.

Irrecoverable, but not lost. Forgotten perhaps, but not lost.

And there is nothing sad in this; for I am happy. Today and since quite long. But I know now that everything behind is a sunk cost.

So with that, I can let bygones be bygones.

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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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If Not Now, When?

So many drafts; just like my life: my business a draft, my books drafts – my success a draft – my dreams a draft.
But alas, life is no rehearsal; I play starting squad on a team of one every single day.

And here as I sit, shoulders haunched, stomach slightly pudge and paunch, this is who I am: a California Thoreau; a yuppie-hippie – candlelit and lovesick – my boyish heart beating a stone’s throw from my boyhood home. This is as whole as I will ever be.

Sure, I, like my drafts, am unfinished; and I may become more complete as they do, but I’ll never be more the bard than I am now – I either have it or don’t; the gift, the magic, the love of humanity. I believe these things exist within me.

This is my myth, the story I am living, and it terrifies me. I have been blogging writing underground nearly six years. And this waking dream I call 7saturdays has evolved with me – from the online diary of an ambitous twenty-four year old, to a neverending letter to myself, my future readers.

And, until I finish those drafts, I know I am placing messages in bottles to no one. Because I know that, like the still waters before me, my life holds them all captive. The lack of flow, of digging deeper to push these letters downstream, holds them all back. And they are adrift, like ships in a fog, at the mercy of the current, and the current is what waits for no man; for the current is time; and I: the moon, master of the tide.

The tide won’t wait. And then, there is only the dread of the rocks. No redemption for my soul, no reaching millions with my books. Not if they are drafts.

I must shape the world as I see it fit to live in; I must build islands in this sea. Otherwise the bottles float on, lost forever.

It is my hope – my deepest desire – that I will become one of the greats. Not to be great – to do great. I think it was Jung who wrote: Goethe does not create Faust, Faust creates Goethe.

And in this fashion, I aim to complete my drafts and in working on them to work on myself, to work on the world. In this way, my life’s work will become part of our human story, our history. For what does a writer do if not write the biography of the world? His work capable of permeating past, present, and future.

But, oh the dread of the rocks!

However, I must look to my library, to the men and women who cast off before me – to the poets, philosophers, and writers who have landed on my shore – to the ones who invited me to this great wide sea. And it is with deep appreciation and great awe that I read their works. I read with the hope all writers have: the hope that through some mystical, intellectual osmosis, their gifts will inform mine.

There are a thousand reasons books at my home, all beckoning me forth.

Beckoning me to sing along, lest my swan song be a mere death rattle and not an echo for eternity.

I wish G-d would whisper to me now, and maybe He is. Maybe the desire in my heart is a promise; and I would like to believe it is, which is, I think, a sign of fear – as is the case with all things we would like.

I fear greatness. I fear people thinking I am a fraud, a wannabe. As if I will be rejected for thinking I could build telescopes that let people see the stars.
But that is what I want my books to do. It’s what Shakespeare did. He took people to places in their hearts they had never been. He expanded the depth of the human heart. Joy, sorrow, laughter, ire – reading Shakespeare teaches me that these are part of a human life, part of the beauty and fullness of living. I too would like to be a steward of humanity.

And given the opportunity I have to do so, I feel blessed; and, as is the case with anyone who feels himself to be blessed, it is immensely humbling.

I do not forget where I come from: I was a kid who grew up in the proverbial gutter – and maybe that’s the problem: my inability to shake the feeling that life was hard. Then again, is a hard life not the fire in which writers are forged?

I write here to curate my living myth, my story. To pull the tide closer to my dreams. Dreams held back by excuses.

But, if not now, when?

There is nothing more to say, only to write.

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Planes or Pills

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.

– Joseph Campbell

I am thirty and I don’t believe in anything anymore. Only G-d and books. Love feels like a dream gone wrong; for life never made any sense before or after her.

Fate has her cruelties, just like nature; there are seasons that wash away dreams.

But what is underfoot, at bedrock, on the riverbank of your life – beneath the ceaseless torrent of change – what is the truth that does not yield?

For me, it’s my life as a writer.

The other kind of life is killing me. Trying to fit in. Trying to date. Trying to pretend my constitution agrees with this American life.

So I think about planes, and journeys: places altogether unlike this capitalist empire. I am coming to see that I need to shape my world as I see it fit to live in; for this is no life for me. No life at all.

Best case scenario USA: I become famous with my books, live the Hollywood dream, and am loved by a bunch of people who wouldn’t otherwise even look me in the eye.

There is a reason a certain kind of writer has historically left this country; too many heartaches and bad breaks and the psychic baggage reaches a tipping point; his values pull him over, beckoning him toward distant borders.

So, after I finish my story, perhaps I will buy a boat. Sail a southeasterly course from Marina Del Rey. Or, maybe just a ticket to Mexico. I don’t know. But I’m dying to go.

Planes or Pills

Give me planes or give me pills,
I can buy it
Hundred. dollar. bills
Money mania
Consumption kills –
Camille

Life will not last
Yet strength of will can keep a soul intact
For naught is immortal but love,
Heroism and the heart above

Saving Daisy,
He became a martyr in the final act
But he was lost all along
Trying to love someone long gone

An American horror story

Hearts of men – heroes – dying for coquettes
Gamines, drinking honey without ever breaking a sweat
The fuel for bittersweet regrets
The selfish are not due a mortal debt

You see, she was my executioner

Her magic skin
Sweet was her love but fatal our sin
For little did I know,
Her kiss would take my bliss

I now retrace my Nihilism back to her lips

For my life’s never made any sense,
Before or since

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Writing

A Writer at Work

Edit: What began as a freeform entry, like any other I write, turned into a realization of a shortcoming in my writing ability, this illumination, no doubt, due to the fact that I have applied myself to read countless books this year, sometimes reading more than a book a day (As I did today, reading Robinson Crusoe this afternoon and returning to Les Miserables tonight). Put simply, I am not up to snuff with my imaginary peers, and I can finally see it. That being said, I intend to go to work on my writing and make a bounding leap in quality. There’s a reason I have not completed any of the two novels or the three novellas I have begun; I have known deep down for a time that my skill as a writer does not yet equal my talent nor my passion, and therefore does not do it justice. There being no other way to improve on writing than to write, I have used this blog as a cathartic medium for that endeavor. Tonight, I am finding it is serving it’s purpose well. I hope to emerge from this quest for betterment in visible possession of what I now lack. The rest, which made my inadequacy clear, follows.


The heart is light,
The time right;
I’m finally doing it

There’s a line in Robinson Crusoe that says something about a man’s good fortune sometimes being the seed of his demise, and so it was the case for me.

But I could have torn down anything, no matter how beautiful. I was too young then – too young to be a man, too reckless; I was destructive, and I destroyed, and consequently lost all.

However, youth is no excuse.

Men younger than I: boys – gamines, as Victor Hugo called them, little Gavroches have shown more heart than I. It wasn’t years I lacked, but resolve. And beyond that, I was horribly entitled – a funny thing for a boy who grew up something of a gamine himself. Humble and tough upbringing aside, I had a big chip on my shoulder; and sometimes, a chip on the shoulder of one born in deficit is worse than a chip on the shoulder of the spoiled child. The spoiled child, while more arrogant, doesn’t posess the capacity for self-pity the poverty born child does. Arrogance is far less of a threat because it is far easier to see – being on the surface – whereas self-pity is far more than skin-deep: it’s an inadequacy of the Soul, where arrogance is an inadequacy of the world. The spoiled kind of entitlement results in an ego that compensates for this, making no apologies, for he feels himself superior. Whereas the entitlement that sometimes results from impoverishment creates an ego that

Pause. This is garbage. Not the form, but the substance. This is the second night in a row I have been unable to succinctly express something I felt deeply. As last night, tonight’s sentences are entangled and jumbled, tripping over themselves, the ideas knotting up, the substance lost.

It’s clear to me I am lacking something in my toolkit. Something missing from my employment of words is causing my ideas to explode on launch.

What this missing component in my writing technique is, I know not. But I can feel it; intuitively, I know there is a technique, an approach I might apply, that will render my sentences as clean as a bone, to borrow the words of James Baldwin. I want the ideas as pure as Shakespeare’s and as eloquent as Hugo’s. But, while I want them bone clean I do not want them bone dry, lacking in marrow, as the sentences of Hemingway or Conrad feel to me: palatable and fine in syntax but wanting in richness. What I want are sentences containing ideas as gorgeous to the reader as the finest equations are to the mathematician. Great ideas, genius ideas, these are devastatingly simple in their beauty. While I am a failure at math, having failed at algebra twice, I do know something of its beauty, being that I can parse clean code (front end Web).

Also being that I am not a savant as a programmer, I know that writing clean code requires I thoughtfully compose each line, neat and indented, using Notepad++, in order that I might see every bit, knowing it’s role and lack of superfluousness. There is an approach to coding known as DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself), which, in its focus on minimal output, embodies this.

I feel clumsy now just looking at the above paragraph. As if I have caught myself in the irony of my own overdoing it.

Anyhow, it’s clearly time I take to the drawing board. I’ll collect myself from the sand I sit upon and mosey home to supp and figure out how I might better parse my thoughts. There’s work to be done, no doubt.

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Bubba Grew Up, Amen.

I’ve been working on another entry lately, spending the past few nights near the water, before bed, turning over big deep metaphors, trying to communicate the wisdom of hindsight, having made it out of the deep Dark Night of The Soul. But really, I’ve just gotta say:

Amen.

I breathe now to center myself. Big, deep, slow breaths. Wow. I am in awe.

I made it out of something I never thought I would. And there’s no asking why we suffer now; I have never been more free and light in all my life. 

Before, I had my cake – but now anything of the sort would merely be the icing. My world has become so much bigger now that I’ve found peace and happiness in myself. In this new lease on life I can eat my cake and have it too.

I am man: world unto himself. I’ve no girlfriend, no kids, not even a crush. I am completely free and following my dreams. I guess this is the tale of a recovered co-dependent, but I’ve found more than independence; I’ve found my identity; to quote J.K. Rowling, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” And at thirty I’ve finally forged a solid identity, founded upon my own rock bottom. I now have complete security in myself, complete confidence and faith in who I am.

I no longer live under the shadow of my own self-destruction as I did for so many years. I guess you could say I’ve made friends with my own worst enemy. I’m now a conscious parent to my own inner child, and he trusts me, secure in the knowledge that I will never again look for someone else to love him for no one can ever love him like I do.

I’ve had to come to terms with myself in order to be whole enough to love him. And he’s had to grow up too.

Yes, there are monsters in the closet bubba; and I their master, and they are healing too. It’s you and I and the ghosts – friendly as Casper now that I’ve accepted the depravity in them.

The launch codes are finally out of reach, safely left in the past, where they belong. And I Thank the Gods every single day for this Grace, making sure the spirit satisfies what the flesh never could.

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Journal: Routine, Civic Duty, and Nights on The Shore

17 June, 2015

Writing on my phone, on the shore, under the stars; routine. From the 17th century French word route, meaning ‘road’, and from the Latin ruptus, meaning ‘broken’. It’s the broken road I take. Broken because it’s not the journey, that is whole, but taking the journey that makes us whole.

It was trying to escape the broken road fate hath lain before me that drove me mad. Mad to drink, mad to hate, mad to think I knew better than love what love was.

But now, though the road be broken, I traverse it ensconced in the familiar security and protection of routine, placing more of my life within my relative control and providing me with the simple things I have grown to depend on. Just as my cappuccino comes hot, the night comes cool; the air fresh and refreshing; the night breeze, soft on my face, has even grown familiar and comforting.

Another aspect of my routine, my sanctity, is volunteering at the library: a civic institution. From the Latin civicus; from civis, meaning ‘citizen’ and icus, meaning ‘belonging to, derived from, pertaining to, or connected with’.

For I am no longer a stranger, estranged from my hometown, but a citizen, and the library belongs to me and I belong to it. Hence, it is my civic duty. But it’s also so much a pleasure: intermingling with my fellow citizens: Cathi and Richard and Louisa and a small, eclectic group of others who are kind to me. Lovely people.

I haven’t even told them I am moving back to LA, but I already know I will ride the train down the coast every month to spend a couple afternoons with them and my nights here: writing on the shore.


Post publish edit: I feel it pertinent in writing on the subject of my routine to note that aside from volunteering thrice weekly and writing nightly, upon awaking and before sleep I daily recite to myself the things I am grateful for as well as my creed. These two things have been a wellspring of good.

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