I have no idea what I’m doing.
Two years ago I decided to write a book. I’d recently gotten clean after a very long drug addiction and I felt I had something to say. I began writing the story, but realized that I was not able to verbalize it in the way that I was feeling it.
I connected with an old friend from high school, also interested in writing. For a few months we held weekly “writer meetups” to share what we were working on, critique each other’s work, and just have fun talking about philosophy, art, and the creative process.
We also began reading and learning about how to write better, how to publish and market, and ultimately, how to be a successful author. How to make it.
I happened upon a blog that suggested that the best way to sell a book in the age of the internet was to build a blog, gain an audience, and then you’d have some guaranteed buyers of your book.
For about a year I was blogging, mostly ranting, and occasionally someone here and there would like or share what I had to say. But I was never happy with the design of my blog. And I hated learning all the technological aspects of blogging. I still do. I just want a prepackaged website that presents my words beautifully. All the web services promise to do this, but that’s not how it goes down.
To add to my frustration I came across a blog that suggested that a blog that matters is one that provides real value, not some guy that talks about his feelings. Point taken. I decided that if I wanted to build a blog following, I needed to offer something. Hmm, what can I offer?
During this time I also started taking courses in philosophy, and reading all kinds of books on the craft of writing.
I learned in philosophy how to reason better, and how to present an argument: claim, data, warrant. Make a strong claim, present some facts in support of this claim, and then warrant your claim with a sound interpretation of the data provided.
Anyway, here I am two years on and I still I haven’t written a book. I have a small audience out there, but you're not gonna be interested in buying my book because I got you to subscribe on false pretenses. You see, I’m not some caring guy who wants to change the world. I’m a misanthrope who often hates the world. And when I feel like throwing a verbal fit, that’s what I do. Acknowledging the ugly is an expression of beauty for me.
And as far as creating this following through blogging, I don’t have the energy for it. I’m not interested in trying to “convert” followers into book buyers. And I prefer to write journal entries and letters than to limit myself to providing some “useful” service to readers. And the claim-data-warrant, well sometimes I like reckless and flamboyant prose. If people don’t get it, fuck ‘em.
What’s interesting is that all this studying of writing, as much as I feel it has gotten in the way, it also seems to have been a necessary part of the learning process. I’m not saying I have things figured out all of a sudden. Oh no, the reason I named this new blog “This Is Imperfect” is because I knew that would give me an out for every public failure I could ever make. Look, motherfucker, this is imperfect. Get it?
So I’m coming clean. I’m waving the white flag. I’ve surrendered. I can’t tell you what to expect, or whether any of it will be good, or inspiring. I can’t preach to you, because I feel like a fraud when I do. And I’m not some union leader of community either. I don't even know my neighbors, and I see them every day. I wave, but I never make the twenty-foot walk to go get to know them.
It’s funny, growing up. You realize that all the perfect things you thought would come about don’t. I wonder whether everyone else who is 37 already has this figured out and I am just learning late because I was high for 20 years. Other times I wonder whether all that getting high has opened my eyes to things other people cant see, and it’s my job to bring it into vision. Now that’s that the thought I like, but I tend to like any idea that boosts my ego.
I dream about the future. I told my wife tonight that I used to believe that by the time I was 40 I would be rich, successful, have a Victoria's Secret model wife, Gap children, and I’d be well-known. In case it isn’t clear, this dream hasn’t come true—except the bit about my wife.
Yet I still dream in all my vanity. I imagine being well-known and well-liked and hopefully well-despised by a few. I dream about being asked about my success as a writer, and I’ve already worked out my reply:
Success is the result of a willingness to repeatedly and publicly fail.
Because if I ever am a "success," that is the only way I could describe what this effort to succeed in writing feels like—like one big fucking mistake after another. But somehow these mistakes feel like they are stacking up to amount to something.
This is just me attempting to make art. And against the advice of wise sages, who suggest you must stick to one thing, I’m trying to make art in several ways. I mostly love words, but I do the occasional photography and songwriting too.
So now you know. Unsubscribe if you like. The reality is I can’t do this whole thing of building an audience and writing to please others. I want to communicate, but I must stay true to a voice that I feel inside me. And I still have no idea what it is, but I know it’s not in trying to win your approval. I spent all of junior high and high school trying to do that, and I’m still pissed about it. So if you don’t like what I write, get the fuck outta here.