Behind every good piece of writing are good thoughts. Writing is a series of thoughts strewn together. A writer hopes that his thoughts are coherent, unless he intends for them to be humorous; in which case, he writes an absurdity (with either a grain of truth in his absurdity or a presentation of truth as through the eyes of a fool) in an attempt to get the reader to laugh. But one must be a thinker to be a writer.
To think is to be human. Humans think (I think). Thoughts are consciousness, and, along with desire, drive human action. Action is the manifestation of thoughts directed towards the satisfaction of a desire.
So, to reiterate, in order to write, you must think. I desire to write. Therefore, I must think, and then I must write. However, in order to write “quality” words, one must have “quality” thoughts. But what is “quality”? What is a “good” piece of writing, and what is a “bad” piece of writing? When one likes a piece of writing, one says that the piece of writing is “good”. But is it really good? Can it be objectively good? Is a piece of writing good when a majority thinks it is good? If I think it good and you think it bad, can it objectively be good or bad? Can I be a “good” judge of “good” writing, while you be a “bad” judge of “bad” writing? And, if it is possible to objectively determine whether or not a piece of writing is “good” or “bad”, then what of someone who doesn’t like a “good” piece of writing, or who does like a “bad” piece of writing? Can said person be “wrong”? Can their preference be “incorrect”?
Obviously, a lot of what makes writing “good” or “bad” depends on the countless preferences of the reader. Writing involves, if fiction, a setting, character introduction and development, actions, conflict, and a resolution (to put it elementary; I’m sure you literary scholars will inform me of what I’m leaving out). I’m not sure if you can posit an absolute that any particular piece of writing is “good” or “bad”. I suppose, however, that one universal sign of good writing is how effectively you can communicate to the reader. In other words: can the reader understand your words? Readers vary in their reading comprehension, so suppose someone comprehends your writing and another doesn’t. Once again: can you say that the writing is either good or bad? And can someone who can’t read at all be a good judge of good and bad writing? If an illiterate person hates reading, and thinks that all words are “bad”, are they?
Perhaps this question of whether or not writing can be objectively “good” or “bad” is mute. If that’s the case, then, as a writer, why should I care if my writing is “good” or “bad”? Instinctively, I want my writing to be “good”. I want all of my creative works to be “good”. So what is “good”?
The best definition of “good” that I have come up with to date, which has satisfied me the most, and which I apply to all of my creative endeavors, is how I feel about the work.
There is a trend in American society which stipulates that there are no such things as facts, and that all whims are absolute realities. This, of course, is ludicrous. But just because not all whims are absolute realities doesn’t mean that desires are meaningless. As I’ve stated before, desires are the root of action. All action is taken in an attempt to satisfy a desire, with thoughts being the specific course taken en route. It is important to distinguish the importance of facts, and the importance of desires.
Facts are existential givens. Accepting them makes our lives easier. It is simply a fact that one must accept facts. If one is not aware of a fact, then that does not mean that the fact doesn’t exist. Facts are there, and understanding them helps us figure out which course of action to take to satisfy the desires that we wish to satisfy (or that we think we can actually satisfy). We as humans exist within the boundaries of an immutable reality, whereby certain things are absolutely true. That we exist is absolutely true. If we didn’t, then, quite literally, we wouldn’t be here.
As you can see, this is quite complicated. I have a tendency to be a big thinker, and it makes it a nightmare for me to write. In fact, I, quite often, resent writing. I love it, and I hate it. I love the ideas and the potential that I have in my head; I love the physical act of typing. But organizing, making sure I include all of the facts that I wish to include, and concluding the piece are nightmare experiences to me. “But isn’t that what writing is? How can you love writing if you hate all of that?” I don’t understand it, either.
I know that I need practice. Lots of practice. Lots and lots and lots of practice. I’m realizing this more than ever before. I would say that I’m an above average thinker for my age, but my lack of experience makes it difficult to write. What do I know? Not enough to be an expert on anything. I’m still in a mostly-learning phase; not a “teaching” phase, if you wish to call it that. But I still have this desire to write. So what do I write when I don’t know anything? I begin with a piece like this: a critical self-analysis which is intended to give me practice in areas I’m lacking (cohesion, vocabulary, etc.) and which the piece itself is both a genuine question on my part and an attempt to get the answer.
I’m a terrible reader. My disdain for reading came in elementary school, when there were deadlines to reading. Most of the books were rather boring, so I didn’t read. And I haven’t read much since then, which is a shame, considering that I loved reading before school. But I digress.
I’m still not a huge reader. Besides my past experience with reading, I don’t know why. Why don’t I like to read? It’s not that I dislike reading everything. There are certain topics I’m interested in reading. Economics, for example. I love reading Murray Rothbard. But I don’t read his works everyday. In fact, I take long breaks between reading sessions. Why? Because I simply have other things that I would like to do which take precedent over reading. It’s a matter of time-constraints and desire hierarchies.
That being said, I love writing more than I love to read. But, as I’ve said, how can I become a better writer if I don’t know anything? Reading is a great way to learn, and learning makes writing easier. So if I don’t like to read, but I like to write, then what?
Honestly, I think the answer for me is just writing. Just practicing. Going through the motions of rereading, editing, grabbing a thesaurus, etc. And patience. My God, am I an impatient writer. I hate how long it takes to bring ideas together. I hate that it can take page after page after page to prove a point. Perhaps, with practice, I can make my writing more succinct. But, still yet, considering the gargantuan nature of the ideas that I wish to write about, the lengths of the pieces could still be devilishly long.
I have a tendency to be in a hurry. I don’t like sitting around, feeling like I’m doing nothing. At least not when it comes to writing; which is hilarious, because I don’t think I’m like this in many other areas of life. I live a very vegetative lifestyle. So why am I in a hurry when it comes to writing?
That comes down to disorganized thinking. When I was younger, I was raised in a religious household. Not that my father was very religious, but my mother went through a religious “phase”. She believed that the religious ideas that she wanted to introduce to us (mainly through pastors, etc.) were the best things for us. In my opinion, they weren’t. They stunted a lot of educational growth. They just did. Religion has a tendency to do that sort of thing, and I don’t think I can unravel the world’s ensnarement by religion. I can only focus on myself, analyze my past, and write my way through it towards a conclusion. But many of the desires that I had when I was a child to be intelligent were squashed by religion. Many people, tragically, are going through this today. If there were scientific facts I wanted to learn, I felt afraid, and that I should just “chalk it up to God” instead of understanding chemical and biological processes. It just made me tragically ignorant.
The same is true for my vocabulary and writing ability. It’s extraordinarily depressing, considering how much I desire to write. Perhaps it can be undone with practice. That’s what I’m hoping, anyway…
So all of this is just practice. How do I decide when a piece is finished? I need just as much practice thinking as I do the physical act of writing. The religious ideas of my past have fucked up my ability to think; to retain information; to sit and stew, and ponder. I don’t think religion is the sole perpetrator, here. I think that a lot of it has to do with being born smart around stupid people. Not that my parents were stupid people, but I don’t think that they knew what they were getting into with me. I don’t think they knew how to raise a smart kid. They loved me, but I don’t think they knew what they were doing. I can’t really blame them for that. At this current stage in my life (I’m as old as my father was when he had me, and older than my mother was), I wouldn’t know what the fuck I was doing, either. And I’m pretty sure that if I had a kid, he wouldn’t turn out as well as I have.
But to get back to the topic at hand, this piece, and many other pieces in the future, are just practice. This is practice in organizing thoughts, word selection, cohesion, but perhaps, most importantly, just doing the goddamn thing.
I need more practice thinking, and I need peace and quiet to do this. But, when I’m in peace and quiet, religious fears pop back up within me of not thinking about “God” enough. More educational stunting. I have to find a way to let go of this religious fear and feel confident in sitting in solitude, thinking, and organizing my thoughts effectively enough for writing. And this is going to be fucking hard.
But I really want it. Never before in my life have I realized how important it is to practice this. My best friend, who is also a writer, has told me for years the importance of reading and writing. But I had too many mental blocks to take his advice. Now, mainly due to growing restless of a barely-above minimum wage job, with no good (satisfying) alternatives in sight, I think it’s time to start practicing on what I love. I need to practice more isolation; more getting away from the ignorant ideas of this small, southern town. I need more isolation, more peace, more thinking, more analyzing, more reading, and more writing. A lot of these are the opposites of what I was taught that I should do: that I should “stop thinking so much”, that I should “stop overthinking” or “overanalyzing”, and that I needed to become a “social butterfly”. Horribly, horribly ignorant advice for me. I’m not questioning the love with which that advice was given. But it’s completely contradictory to my nature, and isn’t going to work for me. And I’m not going to force it to work. I’ve done enough of that in my lifetime, too (mainly through…take a guess? Religion).
I’m not using this to say that I hate my parents. This is merely an exercise in independence, and practice of the skillsets that I wish to improve upon.
Peace and quiet are crucial for writing. Considering how little writing I’ve done in my life, I’ve always considered portrayals of writers needing peace and quiet in movies or cartoons to be stereotypical. But it is very, very true. And due to the isolatory nature of being a writer, one is alone with one’s own thoughts constantly. One has to be. And that can be quite terrifying. You have to be comfortable with yourself to be a writer. My hands tremble as I write this. You really, really have to be comfortable with yourself as a writer. You have to write down your weaknesses, and know yourself frighteningly intimately. I’m a very introspective person, and it is hard for me to function in anything without understanding myself. I analyze everything to understand my motivations and my decisions. I do this towards other people as well. I’ve always loved doing it, even though my parents and peers have always tried to teach it out of me. But it didn’t work; it’s too intrinsic. It just got slowed down for a little bit (tragically).
On a little side note here, another thing that I’m realizing is that I need more confidence. Depending on the issue, I can be pretty confident and outspoken. But when it comes to defending myself, I tend to rather avoid conflict altogether. I’m a naturally non-combative person, but I do like telling people when I think that they are wrong or stupid. It is fun. But I do need more confidence. I need more confidence so that I can become even more outspoken through my writing. I have a lot of things that I want to say, and a lot of popular tangled webs that I want to unweave, and I need to be able to defend myself. I need more self-confidence and self-assurance. I need more logic. But at the same time, I also want to avoid some conflicts that I know are inevitable. I want the defending of myself to come incrementally. I don’t want to go insane with idiots, or even smart people. I don’t care about debating that much, but I do need a little more practice at that if I’m going to get all of the thoughts down that I wish to get down.
One important thing that I have only briefly mentioned here is learning how to edit. I have an aversion to going back and reading my writing. Untangling some of the messes that my horrible language skills create just gives me a huge headache. It’s just easier to set the piece aside for months (or even years) at a time and do something else. But I can’t get anything done that way, and if I wish to get things done, I need to start developing the willpower to edit.
Once again, a large part of my unwillingness to go back and reread my work and edit it is the same religious–intelligence problem that I discussed earlier. My thoughts were constantly interrupted with fearful religious thoughts about God, so the idea of relaxing, sitting down, and dedicating time to something “without thinking of God” (or whatever this ignorant feeling is) is (sadly) foreign to me. Relaxation can’t be part of your repertoire when you need to analyze your every thought and action for fear of going to Hell.
It’s fucking ignorant bullshit.
But I need to learn to relax and get lost in my thoughts. I need to rekindle my desires to learn, and to think. I just hope that the emotional damage hasn’t been permanently done, and that I can untangle it. I can’t be like the majority of people in my hometown who have had their mental facilities retarded by religion. It’s tragic, and I don’t want to be an ignoramus forever. It is still very emotionally uncomfortable for me. But, once again, I think I just need to practice it. I need to practice thinking in peace and quiet, and unraveling all of the conservatism from my mind so that I can say everything that I wish to say. This will prove most difficult…
It really is depressing to think about how much religion has hindered me in my life. It has destroyed a great deal of my self-confidence, self-expression, and self-improvement. It hindered them for many, many years. My heart weeps over it. I’m far behind where I could’ve been, and I can’t go back and relive my life. It’s most depressing.
All I can do is unravel it from this point in my life, then move on and learn all it is that I have missed out on over the years. Sure, there are scientific prodigies who will go on to make lots of money from curing various ailments in the world, and sure, maybe I missed out on that possibility because of religion. Maybe my interest could’ve led me to be one such person (probably not). Or maybe I would just be more educated about science. But regardless, I’m not happy with where I am, and it is depressing.
Religion is a way of lying to yourself. Not that God doesn’t exist, and you’re lying to yourself by believing that He does. But religion is repression. It’s a repression of humanity. It’s a repression of natural human desires and abilities. And that’s why it’s so destructive. All for a bunch of lies; that if I do x, y, and z that I will get into Heaven.
Your actions do not get you into Heaven;
And Christ’s forgiveness cannot be earned.
It is only given freely by the grace of God.
So, to sum that up, my old religious beliefs retarded me quite a bit. It’s depressing, and I’ve been cheated of great opportunities to learn; but I will work on unraveling all of this and becoming more learned in life, and in writing.
It really is a tragedy that religion has destroyed my ability to sit in peace and think. I need to be able to sit in peace and think if I’m going to be as good of a writer as I can be. But it’s hard to do that when you have trained yourself for years to feel afraid when you feel relaxed; to feel compelled when you feel comfortable. I’ve repressed a lot of these terrible religious ideas I’ve had over the years, but if I were to actually go back and try to analyze them, I would break down into tears. It’s horrible human torture to go through religion the way I did. There are many people that have had it worse, but it is still inhumane to adopt the religious ideas that I adopted. It’s one big heartache. It destroyed peace and comprehension; as I’ve said before, it destroyed my ability to think. My ability to be confident, and well-spoken. It destroyed my mind…(although not completely, as evidenced by this (and other things)).
So, although you may feel this is an unnecessary tangent, I must now attempt to unravel my religious past in order to better understand why my writing is the way that it is so that I can attempt to improve upon it. As I’ve said, I grew up believing that intelligence was the ultimate sin: why rely on sinful humanity instead of a perfect God? And the perfect God was going to church, living by the Ten Commandments, etc. etc. Writing this is most difficult, as it brings back those most dreadful terrors within me. But I must press on to move on and develop as a human being.
The fear of Hell is one of the worst experiences. It cripples you. It grips you, and shakes you to your core, and doesn’t let you go. It causes you to do things that you never would believe you would do. It makes you lie to yourself. That’s one of the worst things about it. It makes you afraid to admit things about yourself. It makes you afraid to be yourself. It makes you afraid to admit your weaknesses; it makes you afraid to admit your interests; it makes you afraid to admit your abilities; and it makes you afraid to admit your desires. It just makes you afraid on one of the most primal levels ever. And people that preach at others to fear for Hell without giving them any hope are, quite frankly, terrible people. And people who give those afraid of Hell bad advice are doing something tragic. Perhaps it’s well-intentioned (I think that most of the time, it is). But in practice, the whole situation is depressing.
I do not understand God’s justice. I may not ever understand it. On the one hand, I can understand how, because Adam and Eve shed light on evil, and this evil thus afflicted us, that God would be upset (to put it lightly; I’m not quite sure exactly how to describe God’s (feelings?) about this). But on the other hand, it feels like an overreaction. An eternity of pain and suffering? It does feel a little bit extreme. I accept it deep in my core, but, at the same time, I almost disagree with it at my core. It does feel a bit too harsh. But, although atheists will crucify me for this, perhaps there’s just more to the picture that I don’t understand.
However, although I do not understand just how just God’s justice is, I can say, through personal experience, observation, and frequent discussion for years with someone who became my best friend during this process (you shall eventually, in the coming years, know of his credentials on this subject) that self-condemnation is not the way to go.
Self-condemnation is the belief that one must condemn oneself for one’s transgressions by becoming aware of them and feeling guilt for them. Then, the doctrine goes, one must accept Christ into one’s heart so that He can forgive you for all of those transgressions. In practice, what this means is a lot of “beating oneself up” for one’s sin and a lot of repetitive acts to (try go get into Heaven when one dies?) It is almost as if these people are whipping themselves so that they can see the streets of gold and flowing milk and honey when they die. But the problem is the whipping.
If Christ died for your sins, then that’s it. That’s all it took to get into Heaven. And if you believe that, then that’s as far as you need to go. It doesn’t involve going to church every Wednesday and Sunday; it doesn’t involve being a good person; it doesn’t involve fear. It’s just simply done.
My thoughts on Christianity have changed in recent years. My earliest experiences with religion were my mother reading from the Bible to my brother and I, and many trips to a couple of different churches. There were also sermons on the radio on the way to these churches. I suppose that my mother reading from the Bible was harmless enough. It was boring as sin, and I viewed the exciting stories as just that: exciting stories (I think I was too young to grasp the significance of God), and I viewed the “begats” as insufferable, tortuous boredom. I do not think these Bible readings really instilled any fear in me. At least not any fear that I can consciously remember. These readings were more boring than scary. The church sermons were also boring. I would want to sleep, but my mom wouldn’t let me. And just when I was about to doze off, the pastor would start screaming and clapping in rhythm to the inflections of certain words that he decided to emphasize, and I would wake up, wondering what in the world the man was doing. All of the old people seemed to enjoy it, however. Once again, I can’t recall any specific sermons that made me take something from them; good or bad (thankfully). It was more boredom. There were also television sermons. The late-night television sermons occurred during my middle-teenage years. During this time, my mother “moved out” and we stopped going to church. There was a spiritual void (perhaps no different than when I was going to church), so I started thinking for myself. And I started to realize some of the ignorance of conservatism; things such as the avoidance of modern medicines to cure ills, condemnation of scientific facts, etc. I was finally old enough to (at least on the most basic level) understand some of these basic scientific facts, and they made me happy. I was happy to learn (about space in particular). It was fascinating. It captured my imagination. And it turned me into an atheist.
I wasn’t particularly happy when I was an atheist. In fact, I was miserable and depressed. Science was making me happy, but something was missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. But, to briefly mention it here, I later discovered that the missing piece for me was philosophy: how to view religion, science, and everything else in the world. That’s the direction my mind has decided to go, and I am very pleased with the result thus far, and look forward to seeing where it leads me next. I’m sure it will be most wonderful…
During this time that I was an atheist, I seem to remember one particular night at my grandmother’s house watching a late-night sermon on television in a separate room while my grandmother was asleep. My, how I hated that sermon. I believed that he was full of shit, that God wasn’t real, and that the scientific facts of space would tell me all that I needed to know (even though I didn’t know how, and even though that wasn’t quite fulfilling to me enough; oddly enough, physics were tied into this philosophical belief of mine as well. Only recently have I discovered that physics, astronomy, and everything else in life brings me no satisfaction without some philosophy regarding the subjects accompanying it. It’s complicated, and topics for other pieces). And my atheism continued for many years. I became a bitter asshole, but also, felt somewhat comforted by the cold, emptiness of space. At least there were some facts in the world. It wasn’t the same anti-intellectual ideology that conflicted with my nature that I had been subjected to for so long…But, on somewhat of a tangent, physics always confused me. I would stare at the lightbulb in the bathroom, knowing that there were things to learn about it, but I had no idea what they are. I never thought about going to a library and picking up a book about the nature of light. I didn’t understand how physics could relate to a philosophical framework that would make me happy. Currently, I view physics as immutable realities which we as humans can use to make ourselves happier by making the naturally difficult processes of our everyday existence easier. I think that’s a pretty good way to view physics, even if I (at least currently) know very little about the math.
Also, to go on one more tangent here before I continue the religious discussion: I want to briefly discuss something that has always plagued me. This topic will be it’s own separate, complete piece, but I want to mention it here. Very seldom am I satisfied with the way information is presented by others. Very seldom do I feel like information is presented to me by others in a way that I can understand it. I often find myself having to “take their word for it” without actually understanding it. Sometimes, this has to do with them not explaining the topic in depth, and sometimes, it has to do with my lack of knowledge regarding the subject, and not understanding what they are talking about. But I am particular in who I like as a “teacher”, and most often I am not satisfied with said “teachers”. I do not enjoy teachers who dumb things down. I want the brunt of it. But the lesson of the topic must exist within some type of philosophical framework: why are telecommunications so important? What is the role of business? Who is more right when it comes to ideas regarding business: conservatives or liberals? What philosophical positions can be taken regarding business, and why did telecommunications develop in the first place? Why is faster communication among humans important? Why is it important for more business transactions to take place? Why do people have problems with wealth? Are they justified in having problems with wealth? How did these geniuses develop technologies before anyone else did? Why did no one else do it before them? Why do people disagree on the nature of government? Why do people disagree at all? What is man’s individual nature? What is the appropriate balance between leaving nature alone and transforming it? Why do some people believe in the existence of God, while others don’t? Why are there sub-branches of the same religion? These are types of questions that I almost never get the answers to when listening to various subjects…At least not satisfactory answers. I get many bland responses, or very vague answers regarding these questions, with no elaboration. And this isn’t even considering deceit…that’s a whole nother topic entirely. Many lesson plans are philosophically lacking, and this brings me sadness. But, perhaps, if I read more often, I would find what I’m missing, huh? And, as you can imagine, much of the education I have received is insufficient considering how I think. And it’s tragic that attempts have always been made to teach my way of thinking out of me, but I digress…Sadly, many debates regarding issues and positions will continue on forever, with the same arguments being used to support each side. And thus, the Eternal Struggle continues on…look for a (hopefully) giant piece about this subject coming sometime in the future (only God knows when…)
To get back to the topic at hand, let’s keep discussing my religious past. Let’s talk about the radio sermons on the way to church. I think that the radio sermons affected me more than anything else. The radio sermons occurred during the time that I was going to church during my childhood; during the time my mother was reading from the Bible to my brother and I. I took things from the radio sermons. Things that, in retrospect, were insignificant spiritually (regardless of what significance the pastor took from them). I kept them in my mind, and repeated them. Various points that the pastors were trying to make that, looking back on them, were so devoid that they were never worth listening to in the first place. They became the standard by which I measured myself spiritually. The ideas stuck with me, and I applied them to myself and to others. And, sometimes, I would make up my own interpretations that I’m sure the pastor was not even trying to convey. It is very strange how, when you are afraid, particularly of going to Hell, you don’t even need to listen to someone else to adopt specific ideas about what is sinful and what isn’t. The imagination does a great (well…horrific) job of conjuring up all different ways of sinning and fucking yourself up in the afterlife. I don’t even know if I can remember all of my imaginings here…
But, to continue, I’ll begin explaining how I applied some of those ideas that I listened to that stuck with me to others (this is most dreadful). I spent a lot of time condemning other people in my mind. “What do you mean you don’t go to church?” “Oh, you go to that church? You should go to my church!” “What do you mean you aren’t a Christian?!” Sometimes, I would even express these thoughts to these people. Not my finest moment; I’m not proud of that. Besides applying it to others that I went to school with, I would apply it to people I saw on the television as well. They were subjected to more internal, mental vitriol than the kids I was educated with. The more money they had, the more I condemned them. If they were famous, I condemned them. What was my logic? That’s a great question. It goes back to my prior belief that there is the earthly world and the spiritual world. The earthly world involved all of those good things that I mentioned earlier; all of the things that were not related to going to church every Sunday, and thanking God for every single thing that happened every single time that it happened. So if you enjoyed it, it was probably “earthly”, for that level of religious scrupulousness can only create misery. It’s hard for me to define what I would consider “earthly” because I spent so much time thinking about “spiritual” things instead of “worldly” things. I avoided thinking about “worldly” things, so it’s hard for me to explain what it is that I ignored for so long. As I mentioned earlier, it involved learning (particularly of the sciences); it involved language and vocabulary, and speaking well; it involved feelings of attraction towards the opposite sex; and, of course, all kinds of “violent” movies, television shows, etc. I really thought that the entire world was evil, except for those religious people I surrounded myself with on television, on the radio, and in the church. If you didn’t go to church (or if you went to the “wrong” church), or if you were a scientist, or if you were rich or famous, or even fucking physically attractive (somehow, I viewed being physically attractive as being “sinful”. Probably something to do with “vanity” or lust or something…). All of these people were “sinners”, and instead of listening to what they had to say, I would ignore them while repeating to myself variations on “they are sinners”. I cannot currently express the depression and regret I feel about this. I feel like I owe someone (or some people) an apology, but I don’t know who or whom to direct it to.
I (sadly) feel as if I do not need to explain how religion affected my mental grasping of the sciences. It’s so common that I feel as if everyone already knows what I’m talking about. The argument is still raging today, and, sadly, it always will. The only conclusion I can find to this debate for myself is that conclusion which brings me personally inner peace; I can’t get involved in the Eternal Struggle.
I’ve mentioned how religion affected me linguistically. I’m sure you can imagine how it affected my relationships with the opposite sex. Perhaps I could elaborate upon that in another piece. And, again, you can imagine how it affected my perception of popular movies, T.V. shows, etc. You don’t have to look very hard to find someone who currently has the worldview that I had back then (sadly)…
To continue elaborating upon my previous perceptions of various things in the world, here’s a line of thought that I would’ve had back in the dark day: rich people were greedy; didn’t they know they couldn’t take their wealth with them when they died? Didn’t they know that Jesus hated wealth? Well, by God, I’ll hate it, too! Fuck them! Fuck those sinners! And many of the rich people were also famous, so fuck the famous, too! Honestly, it would be much more difficult to explain why I currently don’t feel these ways than to explain why I felt those ways in the past. When you are, at an early age, introduced to the idea that religion should produce fear in you, you do ridiculous, idiotic things. The religion introduces the fear to you that you never had before, and then tries to give you the remedy to that fear. It seems to me that the remedy to the fear is not introducing it in the first place…
The fear of being “cocky” or “prideful” has really hindered my vocabulary. It has also hindered my ability of being a very logical, sequential thinker. If you accept the fact that this fear hindered my vocabulary and logical thinking, then it is easy to see how it has and is hindering me as a writer. How could religion hinder my vocabulary and logical thinking? Does that mean that my vocabulary is limited to “thous”, and my logical thinking magical, with men walking on water? Not quite.
The language was limited due to fears of being “cocky” or “prideful”, and even fears of being intelligent in general (as, remember, I considered human intelligence to be the opposite of divine existence). Being called a “know-it-all” or “smartass” or “nerd” or whatever at a young age, especially considering my sensitive nature, decreased my vocabulary as well. But, rather than lament at what might have been, when it comes to that, I’m just going to accept it as a “normal” part of growth that I must accept, move on from, and grow from. Even as I say that, however, there is a deep depression in me about words and linguistic development lost…Practice makes perfect, I suppose…
How was my logical thinking affected? The same way. Being a “super logical person” or “too literal” or “too logical” disrupted my natural thinking process. My earliest memories of myself are of me being somewhat logical. But years of being around unsupportive peers made me try to become as chaotic and disorganized as they were in order to fit in. And that’s the shitty situation that my writing and my thoughts find themselves in today, sadly. God help me unravel this piece of shit…My dad always did the same thing to me as well. I always felt bad around him when I tried to be smart. Looking back on it, I don’t think he was purposefully trying to make me feel bad. I think he was just trying to be joking. But at the time, it made me feel like shit to hear him ridicule me when I tried to be smart. To be fair, I probably did bring some of it upon myself, as I’m sure I was cockier than was justified. But also, a lot of my natural intelligent expression was hindered. It was a complicated mixture of both, as human experience, messily and muddily, always is…
So now, as I have a desire to write, and am trying to become better at it, and practice it more often to get in the swing of things and make myself happy through my work, I accept that my vocabulary must improve, and so must my logical thinking. And that is what this (and, I’m sure, other pieces in the future) are working towards. The next, horrible, painful step in this process, is the organizing. Please wait a second while I go get my throw-up bucket.
There, I’m back. Please excuse the smell. It should be obvious to you how organization is crucial to good writing. It’s important in basic conversation. It’s important in linguistics. Sentence creation, idea development, etc. So how could I, over the years, have developed problems with organization? Please see some of the previous causes of my previous problems.
Good organization is a byproduct of good intelligence. And when my intelligence was interrupted, so was my organization. And my intelligence was interrupted by religion and by ignorance, or envy, or whatever it was. And, thus, my organization was affected in the same way. So I won’t bore you with the details of how my organizational abilities became depleted. But how, now (brown cow?) can I fix them? What steps can I take to improve my organizational ability? I’ll express for you a few ways that I’ve thought of that I think will help me out.
One way I’ve thought about doing this is writing down all of the various points that I wish to make in a piece (whether fiction or nonfiction) in a diagram tree, plotting down the major elements that I wish to discuss, and distinguishing between them by differences that I see in the natures of each of the elements. Putting them in order in the tree may help me, also, with elaboration, as I think I may be able to look at the organized tree, look at one piece of it, and begin elaborating upon said idea. Then, when I feel as if the elaboration is done, I can look over at the tree and begin the next portion of the tree, not forgetting where I wanted to go.
Another way I’ve thought about doing this is just through practicing. Just practicing writing, as I’m doing now. Suffering through all of the problems that I have with organizing, and accepting the fact that a large percentage of my writing will be shit. Shit vocabularily, and shit organizationally (and conceptually, etc. etc.). Practice will be the name of the game when it comes to improvement in all of these areas. It won’t occur as quickly as I would like, but I must stick with it, and keep practicing, if I want to improve to become as good of a writer as I want to be.
It’s quite daunting…
But, practice practice practice…
On to the next step.
After organizing, what could be next? If I’m confident with the content conceptually, I’ve accepted that I need to work on vocabulary and organizing, what could possibly be next in the writing process?
That god damned editing.
So, in the spirit of this piece: what are the mental blocks that I have with editing? Aye aye aye…More intellectual problems. The same thing as I’ve stated before, but geared towards editing. But, in addition to the intellectual problems, there are a couple more problems that I have with editing. One of them is a type of perfectionism problem: I can’t stand the thought of not doing something right the first time. It aggravates me. I accept that I am not perfect, but there is a limit. There is a limit to the amount of garbage that I am willing to accept from myself. And if I become too aggravated with my “first draft” (I don’t really do “drafts”, but for lack of a better term), I become frustrated. I don’t like the idea of spending time rereading, rewriting and editing. I would rather do it correctly the first time I write it down. I know that sounds strange, but it’s just how I am. I don’t know why, other than I like to progress and move on to other projects, and I don’t like feeling bogged down by any one project. Although I do wish to spend more time on current projects to make them better (in my opinion). If I can’t do it perfectly the first time, I’ll have to accept that, and learn how to get better through progression. And how do I do that? As I’ve said; through pieces like this. But let’s try to elaborate on this a little bit further.
So if you understand how my religious intellectual problems have affected me, what does this have to do with editing? It comes down to the exertion of intelligence (the sin), back to the language problems (which come back to the exertion of intelligence (the sin)), and back to the cockiness problems. They all overlap and coexist. They all have to do with humanitarian expression of intelligence, manifested in different ways. It’s terribly difficult to move on from, and that’s what this is all about. I think it’s going pretty well so far.
For this piece, at least.
After this piece is published, however, and how I apply these things to myself on a regular basis is another question entirely.
So now that you (hopefully) understand (at least a little) my problem with editing, how do I get better at it?
How do I let go of my mental blocks regarding intelligence?
Practice, and the grace of God, I guess.
Enough with editing. Let’s try to conclude this piece. What are the final pieces to the complicated mental puzzle? Self-esteem. What problems do I have with self-esteem? Do I really need to answer this question for you? Surely, you’ve caught onto the theme by now. However, this self-esteem problem is perhaps the deepest spiritual problem that I have presented today. It goes along the same humanitarian vein mentioned before. The self-esteem was related to the intelligence, the desires to learn things such as the sciences, the desire to express onself intellectually through intelligent vocabulary, being a logical thinker, and being a good organizer. Hopefully, I need to elaborate no further on this. Why is it the most important part of the puzzle? Because it is the one aspect of my personality which drives my actions. Without confidence, even the best of facts can’t help me make good decisions. I have been swayed by others for far too long, and it has kept me from expressing my individuality, and being comfortable in my own skin. Well, how in the fuck can I be a writer if I’m unconfident in expressing myself and am uncomfortable with what, why and how I’m saying it to boot?
So the next question becomes: how do I boost my self-esteem? What caused my low self-esteem? I think that I was born with a very sensitive constitution that swayed very easily in the winds of opinion. A large part of this problem has to do with my father. My father did not seem to like the fact that I was very opinionated, and didn’t like to listen to others. He would always try to give me advice that I should be more open to listening, but I never took it. It did lead to some problems, but I’m pretty content with my decision thus far. And I don’t blame him for what he did, either. As Travis Tritt once sang, I know he had the “best of intentions”. However, it made me very unconfident when I felt like he was very unsupportive of my decisions. But, as “Free” once sang, “It’s alright now.” It’s still a learning process for me to be more mentally independent and confident. It’s always been this way, and, through practice, I can limit myself from being subjected to self-doubt as frequently as I have done to myself in the past. It just takes a lot of practice. It takes time to figure out all of the things that have limited me in the past. It takes time for me to practice learning what I wanted to learn previously, but never did, because of what I’ve mentioned before. Practice makes perfect, and this is no different when it comes to my writing, my personal growth, and my self-esteem.
Another large part of self-development that I must work on when it comes to my works (writing or anything else that I decide to release to the public that I have put effort into) is accepting praise. “But what about criticism?” I’ll get to that shortly. Yes, the acceptance of praise was affected by the same religious factors that I’ve kept stating over and over and over. It was related to pride, etc. etc. But, currently, I don’t feel that way about praise, or self-esteem. So how do I feel about it now? And how does that currently help me improve as a writer now?
I’m still uncomfortable with accepting praise. I don’t know what to do with it. I just sit there, anxious, uncomfortable, and dissociated. But I’m beginning to think that I really shouldn’t be. If writing and other forms of art are going to be as important to me in my life as I think they are and will be, then I must become accustomed to accepting praise. And, at least, accepting the fact that I will be critiqued. Let’s start with the praise.
What should I do with the praise? Well, I can do whatever I want to with it. I think that I need to do with it what makes me the most happy. And, I suppose, I should just accept it. But then, what social interactions should I have with the praiser? Good question. Once again, I feel as if the answer is whatever social interaction I want to have with the praiser. And what is that? Not much. It doesn’t make me very comfortable, and a “thank you” should do nicely. It doesn’t need to go much further than that, depending on the “fan”. But, of course, I’m always willing to accept payment.
And what of the critic? What should I take from them? Well, once again, whatever I feel as if I should do; whatever makes me the happiest (that’s a theme that I’ll have to discuss in a future piece: the philosophical position that you should do what makes you the happiest). Most of the time, I don’t care what critics have to say. Bad language? Bad editing? Bad form, sentence structure, elaboration, etc. etc.? Well, considering how I already know those things, I don’t see the point in reading it, or taking anything from it. So, I just ignore it. (And boy, it is humorous to observe these people’s reactions when you tell them what I have just said). And what about the unjustified critic? Well, obviously, I can just ignore him or her. But what if a critic brings to light something about my work that I hadn’t considered before? Then what? Well, I suppose that I will just have to cross that bridge when I get there. I don’t have to have everything figured out at the moment, you know 😉
One final point, and then I will conclude, is how to start accepting positive feelings and positive occurrences and experiences in general. When I experience something pleasant, I have trained myself though the religious torture device that I mentioned earlier. “Don’t get to happy or high: remember, you’re a sinner, and God has His watchful eye upon you. REPENT!!!” All for saying something like “This ice cream is delicious.” Not that this is an exact example of something that has happened to me, but in principle, it is pretty close. I have put myself through this ringer more times than I can count. My eyes well with tears as I write this. No good comes from religious fear. Just, none. Nothing anyone can say will ever convince me otherwise. I hope that everyone is free of it someday. A large part of our existence is happiness. It is living, and experience, and good things, and enjoyment. You have to be able to accept these things to be happy. Being happy is the purpose of life. It just is. Everything we do on a regular fucking basis is an attempt to maximize our happiness. Even if we are doing something for someone else, we are doing it for ourselves. Our lives are lived individually, and are meant to make us happy. No one can effectively convince me of this otherwise. I will not be able to explain it all here, but I hope you’ll continue reading my works in the future so that I can elaborate upon my position. Those “Christians” who say that “holiness is greater than happiness” are the biggest liars walking the face of this planet today. The two are not separate. They are not distinct. They are one in the SAME. “But what if sin makes you happy?” Sorry to disappoint you, but I’ll have to elaborate upon my religious beliefs in other pieces at later dates. It’s too much to include in this piece, which is going in a different direction (believe it or not, it is going in a different direction than a philosophical piece about the religious role of happiness would go, despite how much religion has been included in this piece).
So how will this piece help me in the future? Once this is completed, then what? What happens to me next? How do I improve? Maybe if I write enough of these pieces, I will develop the skills necessary to be a “good” writer.
Or, at least, a self-satisfied one…
We’ll see how it all becomes received by others later.
And those are my humble, poorly-developed thoughts about how I, personally, can become a better writer.
Maybe you can relate to these words, and they will help you out, or maybe they won’t.
But I’m currently satisfied with the state of this.
More practice to come…
Excerpts from my fiction.
Where you can financially support me if you so desire (T-shirts included; please share all of these links).
A Philosopher’s Mind.
Highly Sensitive Mind.
Offend the Fuck Out of People.