Monday, March 15, 2010

Changing My Mind

Nick Lepard

Life isn't about saying the right thing; life is about failing. It's about letting the tape play. --Jonathan Goldstein

Fiction is a burden. When I think about it, I feel a heaviness. Like I have to keep something going, a facade of characters, and a story where something must happen.

Too many things happened to me. If I just recall certain events and told you about them as I was writing, that would be easier.

What surprises me is how often I change my mind in a week or even a day. And then, I try to imagine what my life will look like five years from now . . . and how many times I will have changed my mind by then.

The mind changes itself ad infinitum and the individual gets caught somewhere between what was said and what was done, each time. Identity is fluid, which makes it OK for me to say one thing and then contradict myself the very next day.

This is all done in good faith. I wouldn't be lying to you, because I really did believe what I was saying at the time.

I detest lying; although I'm a compulsive exaggerator. For example, with numbers, I like to increase them.

How closely have I come to understanding my passions? Maybe I've fooled myself into believing that fiction is something I ought to do in my life or I won't be a valued individual.

I've written compulsively for the last ten years, but a large amount of it hasn't been fiction. This is how I write fiction. I write a page, and then I painstakingly try to improve it. The time I spend trying to improve my fiction vastly exceeds the time I spend writing new fiction. Which leads to a sort of editorial paralysis, you cannot write until you make what you wrote perfect, but that never happens, and your perception changes nearly every time you look at what you've written, so you get sucked in to trying to improve it again.

Life isn't about saying the right thing.

There are two kinds of attention: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary attention is when you're sitting in class and your teacher says, "Pay attention." You have to work for this kind of attention.

Involuntary attention is open-focused. Involuntary attention occurs when children are playing.

Children easily become engrossed in playing with their toys. They are absorbed in their imaginary worlds. Their attention is at its peak. But if you ask a child to sit down at the kitchen table and figure out a math problem, this requires voluntary attention, fixing the mind on an object that is not inherently interesting to them.

However, some children may be able to lose themselves in math problems. For others, reading is a gateway to involuntary attention.

It would be wonderful to always be in tune with the natural promptings of one's involuntary attention. Rather than pushing against the grain, allowing oneself to magically slip into a state of interested awareness. I think what it comes down to is forgetting, another great difficulty I have, to just forget myself and do whatever it is I happen to be doing.

Beyond that, I would like to structure my life so that it reflects more closely my instincts, my natural pathways to intelligence. What if the only person who obstructs me from a life that I really want is me? I'm usually the last person I think of when it comes to my dilemmas. There has to be somebody or something that is holding me back. It can't be me, after all, I'm doing everything I can.

I'm going to dismantle some fictions I have about myself.

One: That I'm a novelist. I'm not a novelist. I'm not even a fiction writer. I don't write enough, I don't practice enough to call myself a fiction writer.

Two: That I'm an artist. I can't really say that either. While I write some poetry from time to time and doodle in my art books, it would be self-aggrandizement to call myself an artist.

Three: That I desperately need your praise. I don't really need anyone to praise me. I think I do, because it is gratifying. But praise is not necessary.

Four: That I will achieve greatness in my lifetime. This is the fiction of my own greatness, re: potential greatness, not yet realized. But it feels real!

Five: I can do whatever I want. In three years, I could be broke. That would be the first time I'd have to face the consequences of having no income.

Blogging is the perfect channel for my writing and experimentation. I'm not looking to gain success by writing some epic of my life. I'm just letting the tape play and seeing what happens.

More Essays . . .



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