October 20, 1980
Susan is ill; the Yankees have lost; and I am not the writer I thought I might be.
Although the sun shines, it is cold out, and day wears depression on its sleeve in my name.
I spent yesterday working out a draft of a story I’m not at all happy with.
What depresses me is the fact that it represents the best I can do at this point in my life.
and wondering how he ever managed to finish his first novel when he wasn’t
satisfied with it, and his material was great.
I stumble over words and phrases as if real objects. I pace around my cold water flat like a madman, aching to somehow transpose that madness from my mind and onto paper.
Genius, I’m told, is work, work and more work, and even after all that work, something may not be finished. Some writers aren’t finished until the work is published and still hate later what they’ve done.
I slip another piece of paper into my typewriter and begin again, trying another idea, then another.
Susan is home with a cold and an empty house, and wonders why I’m not there.
I have to write, I tell her. But she doesn’t really understand or maybe doesn’t believe I really have what it takes to make it.
I have doubts when I’ve written a story like this last one and not liking the outcome, thinking that all the work may come to naught.
I am not a man of many talents and so if this doesn’t work, I have to find something more trivial to make my living at, back to truck driving or worse – though I stunk at porno movies in LA, too, getting excited at the wrong time or not at all when I was supposed to.
How many guys can brag about being fired from blue movies?
I ache to write, and thinking – we all have to start somewhere, and that not everybody can be great from the start.
“Think big,” someone once told me, but never prepared me for how big the bad feelings felt at being rejected – or worse, seeing the flaws before I get a chance to show them to anybody else.
Fortunately, I don’t take rejection seriously. I’m a stubborn bastard.
Some people never recover, crawling back into their shells because nobody could see the merit of their work. I keep thinking of Dickenson and her amazing poetry, and how I would kill to have an ounce of her talent.
Other poets thrill me when they’re great, and make me want to live up to what they do.
This place is cold, yet somehow I manage to stay warm, somehow manage to survive each winter and pay each bill, although I’m always on edge of disaster.
I live with hope that someday I won’t look at what I do and see all the flaws, not just in the work, but in me. All I really want from life is to making my living writing, not doing other things so I can write – even rock and roll distracted me, emotionally and physically, so it became more and more difficult to come home and write.
My theory has always been that if I wrote and wrote and wrote I would eventually get better, so that I write about everything I see or hear or anything that happens to me, so that I have history of people I care about already down on paper. So that if and when I do get better and learn how to control this monster I ache to ride, I can bring them all to life.
But I really would like to know if I have what it takes now, so as to avoid wasting my life pursuing some dream that I may not be able to realize.
Maybe I’m deluding myself.