The Juggling Act

Dear World  

Please Kill Me, 

I can be pretty hard on other writers, in terms of motivation (or lack thereof). My public position notwithstanding, it’s difficult for me to tolerate complaints, grievances, or discernments when the writer fails to properly fuel themselves. After some recent experiences, I realized that my position may be too harsh. 

Needless to say, I’m aware that many of us have those dark moments fairly often. However, when those moments become the trend, norm, (lubed-up justification?), or other… that’s when I get bugged. We’ve all got to do the juggling act every now and again. Due to that, some excuses held very little weight in my court. But before asking you to blindly accept my conclusion, let’s talk about some stuff. 

Perhaps I’m speaking out of school here, but I think our dark moments/main problems have something to do with our own unique and ongoing internal dilemma. Our expectations of life and the implications of having them dashed by the raging fires of reality.  Our desire for instant gratification while simultaneously needing to ‘feel,’ like we’ve learned something, done or contributed to something, achieved something that took time and effort. Our own misunderstanding of what makes us tick. When you mix all of that in a bowl with the creative mind, you’re bound to run into some issues. 

Like some of you, my writing career—for all intents and purposes—spans a few related mediums, all of which have contributed to my growth in the others. In the quest to support myself as a new writer, I always kind of figured that branching out and honing my skill across the variety of possibilities would be a safe bet.  

What I didn’t expect was to lose the clarity that comes with that first “Ah-Ha!” moment. It’s always easier to picture the finish line before you start the race. Similarly, my personal work rarely feels more complete than in that first moment, in its absolute infancy. Unfortunately, it’s hard to hold on to the spark of inspiration beyond its inception. It’s even more difficult when you begin to ignore the spark all together. 

Before long, I became numb to the strokes of brilliance and systematically divided my time between what I wanted to write and what I had to write. That’d seemed to work just fine until I (similarly systematically) began to take on more—because, well…I could. I was proud of that. Thus, the emergence of my latest ‘dark moment.’  

My priorities have become skewed. A social drone would say “fixed.” NO… It’s skewed and now I have to navigate my way through the swamp of self-deception and back into the muddy waters of what I actually want. Worse yet, I have to do it while keeping the current structure of my life (*survival*) intact. 

It’s a trippy thought. First, some context… 

For the better part of the last decade, I found myself writing (/ghostwriting) for independent publishing houses (which basically just paid me to practice), this blog along with some contributor pieces for others, poetry (which is fun to dabble in), copywriting, screenwriting, marketing campaigns, and pretty much anything I could get my hands on to expand my repertoire.  

In the midst of all of that, I was also (mostly) focused on getting my own work done—short stories, novellas, flash fiction, etc. As time went on, I saw the scale tipping. At first, the extra work was just something to subsidize my life. (Let’s be honest, making a livable wage as a fiction author takes some time.) Then, the freelance work became the priority—bills needed to be paid, food needed to be eaten, and without my internet package, everything is game over.  

I relented to my superficial whims without even realizing it. Without even compromising with my creative aspirations. Without even considering the stories that I’m destined to tell. As you could probably predict, this led to the manifestation of my subconscious angst.

First, I skipped a day (slightly depressed). Then I skipped two (slightly enjoying the laziness and depression). On the third day (like a backward Jesus) I froze again, drowning my sorrows in cheap vodka, Netflix documentaries, and the unsung mantra of humanity, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. 

But I did know. I knew and I was so distraught by the reality that I couldn’t face it. I dropped the ball—on everything—because I wasn’t paying attention to the manically screaming muse in my mind. Much like the internet package, it’s game over without that psycho-muse. And not just for “Antwan Crump stories.’ Without the muse, it’s game over for writing…PERIOD. I couldn’t even bring myself to tweet (#FirstWorldProblems). 

And that’s when I realized the problem. I was trying to gas-up my creative vehicle with the wrong damn fuel. I wasn’t making time for what really mattered to me. Thus, the gifts of creation that I’d received ceased to flourish. Cooking my ideas, serving them up, and forgetting to make myself the biggest plate (or any plate at all).

Like a tower of cards, once I lost what made me happy, I couldn’t do a damn thing for anyone else. My mind can’t run on self-neglect. Without creating for myself, I can’t create for anyone else. The whole situation is like trying to run a military-tank with a small sack of frozen potatoes. 

With that, comes the anti-instinctually easy part. I’ve got to figure out what f**king story is driving my subconscious crazy…and write it. The not so easy part will be balancing this new story with everything else that I need to live my life. It’s a juggling act. But a necessary one. It’s the only thing that will work. 

If you find yourself in a similarly dark-spot perhaps the problem is easier to solve than you think. Maybe it’s just that story, waiting for you to write it, and forcing your brain to slip on banana-peels until you do.

Write for yourself first. It’s a good lesson to learn early.

 

Until Next Time,

Antwan Crump.


Also available on Google Books.

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