This was supposed to be a good post. Now forgive me as I fight and claw and fail to reproduce word for word what I wrote in my head before climbing out of bed. If I could just remember how it starts…
(Richard Dreyfuss begins narrating) I was twelve going on thirteen the first time I saw a dead human being. It happened in the summer of 1959…
What the fuck, Richard? This isn’t your movie. Get out. Go!
*Richard Dreyfuss gets out* *Richard Dreyfuss goes*
Sorry, guys. I don’t know how he got in here. This isn’t about the first time I saw a dead body. That’s a story for another time. And it wasn’t 1959. It was in this decade, barely… shit, no it wasn’t. I’m old.
Setting: My high school art class.
We were doing free draw (draw what you want day). I don’t remember what I drew, but I remember my teacher’s reaction.
Teacher: Why don’t you draw something happy?
Me: I don’t feel happy.
In reply, my teacher says nothing. I think that’s the end of that. So I go back to drawing freely (as was the assignment). But then she finishes her round on the classroom, returning to me.
Teacher: Draw something happy.
Me: The world isn’t happy.
That is the gist of the conversation that ended with me sent to the hallway. A few minutes later the principal comes by. Asks why I’m sitting in the hall. I explain. He talks to teacher. Then he tells me if I apologize to my teacher I will be spared punishment. Not in those exact words. He was more like…
Principal: Should you apologize, you will be spared the wrath of my rod… and after school detention.
Which, I wonder if the “wrath of my rod” bit constituted sexual harassment. But we’re getting away with ourselves.
On principle alone, I couldn’t apologize. I still don’t feel I did anything that warranted an apology. So to detention I went.
Richard Dreyfuss: And that’s where I met Teddy Duchamp. Teddy Duchamp was the craziest guy we hung around with. He didn’t have much of a chance in life. His dad was given to fits of rage. One time he held Teddy’s ear to a stove and almost burned it off.
Damn it, Richard. So, what’s my point with this whole art teacher story? Apart from I was an angsty nerd/geek/goth/emo teen. It wasn’t hard to be labeled a goth/satanist in my podunk town. I wore black and didn’t like to talk to people. (Both of which still hold true.)
Can you blame me? You can count the number of kids in my graduating class on your fingers and toes, (granted you have an almost normal number of them) and one of them was a goat!
Rambling again. So what’s the point?
Forced positivity is a prison.
But I understand the appeal of forcing positivity when you’re trying to build yourself as a brand or trying to make friends. You don’t want to scare people away with your negativity or freakishness, both of which you possess in abundance.
But people and sharks can smell fake a mile away.
It’s okay (great) to talk about the joys of writing/life and how much you love it, but this era where we hide all of our failures and our hurts and our body collection in the cellar (the completely metaphorical cellar of our souls) is bullshit. This perfect life we parade on social media.
Positivity isn’t me. And it hasn’t ever been me. If feigning positivity is what it takes for me to succeed, to sell a book, to kiss a woman (because, even today, my wife has yet to kiss me) then I guess I’ll never make it. My humor and fuck-ed up-edness is a big part of who I am and how I write. I can’t just turn it off. If I leave out dark/depressing/odd comments, I’m left with nothing to say but rote robotic recitations.
I’m not saying positive people are bad, and I do have to take lessons from them in going for my goals. There is a place for the positive. There is a place for the negative. Balance. Yin with Yang. Chocolate with peanut butter.
Why did I decide to write this post? Honestly, because I feel like shit today.
Why do I feel like shit today? Thank you for asking.
I feel like shit today because, when I woke up at five this morning, it was to a phone notification of a comment on my blog. The first comment my blog has received since I started up again with the blogging.
The comment wasn’t a criticism or spam, but it still didn’t make me happy. The opposite, honestly. So I tried to go back to sleep. Couldn’t. A thought rattled in my head.
This thought: Nobody reads your blog except for your mom.
Yeah, the comment was from my mom. The contents don’t matter. Forget about the fact that I abandoned the blog for half a year because I didn’t like her reading it (and I didn’t tell the stalker when I started up blogging again. For a reason.)
Richard Dreyfuss: Finding new and preferably disgusting ways to degrade a friend’s mom was always held in high regard.
Are you done, Richard?
And I know I’ve likely forever lost what few readers I had because of my inconsistency. (Mark one as lost because I let her read my book.) But I’m blogging again. Yes, I know the posts aren’t mind-blowing (or even good). One thing they are? Consistent. Stick to your schedule, Asher, and the good will come.
And one way in which I build this momentum is by shouting into the void that is twitter. (Thank you to those few people who shout back, even if it is out of pity.)
I will toil and exist, hearting your things and making sad attempts at conversation until, one day, you have no choice but to accept me. Why? Because I’ve put twenty something years into this strategy (pretending to be human) and I can’t afford to admit defeat now.
And that’s what it takes. Persistence. Not positivity.
Some say positivity breeds success, or something like that. I say success breeds positivity. There are plenty of writers out there singing positivity, and most of them are the successful ones.
Yes, we (shouting to the writers now) are professionals. But we are also artists. And a big part of this artist shit is exploring yourself, freedom of expression. If what you have to express isn’t in line with a person, they are free to not partake. But it is not our artist way to be right and proper. It is not our artist way to be NOT a mess.
Example: In naming my blog, the first idea I jotted down was Shit Show. Because that’s what this is. Because that’s what I am.
I’m a mess and I’m tired of fighting that. I’ve struggled, again, for twenty something years to not be perceived as one.
Why should I, Morty? Why should we hide that mess? Everyone is either a mess or a liar. A lot of people are both.
This writing shit is hard. Even with persistence, you’re not handed a guarantee of making it. Despite what they say, no amount of hard work is a promise of success. And positivity? Don’t piss on people and tell them it’s raining. Because if they can’t take it, maybe they shouldn’t be trying to be a writer. Or anything else, because everything is hard. And because some people like getting pissed on.
And their is such a thing as being positively negative. The goal here isn’t toxic negativity. You want your negative tainted by positive. Positive negativity is not giving up because shit is hard. Persisting with a good humor about things. Not being a destructive whirlwind of awful and shitting on other people’s accomplishments and…
All of this is to say… what is it to say?
Richard Dreyfuss: The kid wasn’t sleeping. The kid wasn’t sick. The kid was dead.
How profound, Richard. To make Richard’s metaphor more approachable to a pedestrian audience, what he is trying to say…
- Be you
- Get your chocolate in their peanut butter
- Let some of their peanut butter in your chocolate
I guess I’m going to accept the whole shit show and positive negativity thing as part of my brand. So don’t go being too positively negative or I’ll sue you.
And if you are saying, “Dude, you’re mental. What you’re doing is career suicide.”
I have only eighteen words for you: Fuck you, suicide awareness and prevention is part of my brand. Mental health as well. I love you.
As far as my blog’s name goes…
I don’t give a walrus’ left testicle if you like it or not. If we’re talking the right testicle? Don’t bring it up or I’ll start crying.
So, I guess…
Richard Dreyfuss: You ready?
Yeah, I think I am.
Richard Dreyfuss: Okay, I’ll be right there.
*Richard Dreyfuss comes to me*
*Richard Dreyfuss takes me gently by the arm*
*Richard Dreyfuss leads me back to my padded room*
*Camera retreats down a hall and out the door of the asylum, ascending into the sky, looking down from above*
Richard Dreyfuss: Although I haven’t seen him in more than ten years I know I’ll miss him forever. I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anybody?