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Issues in Self-Doubt



I'm sitting in the Bean Café on South Street. I've been here before, often trying to break a dry streak. In fact, I once wrote a poem while sitting in this same spot, about breaking a dry streak. It's a cool place, but at the moment they're playing Led Zeppelin.


It's one of Zepplin's worst moments, in which they attempt to channel Robert Johnson or one of the other original bluesmen they poorly emulated, with some slow blues ballad. Somehow I wonder why people don't just listen to the original bluesmen.


Am I going to break a dry streak? Oh, I've been able to write, but I'm trying to get the inspiration that's going to get me published. I'm on a very long dry streak for this particular purpose. I have plenty of good ideas, but I can't seem to agree with myself on my avenue of attack. Or, perhaps I'm just making excuses in my subconscious never to begin.


If I were to be published and even really sell books, how would I react? I'm not a person accustomed to accolades. Surely I would gladly go through all those hoops writers expect, like booksignings and interviews.


I'm not certain how I might cope with the TV circuit of talk shows. That I would not like at all. I particularly don't think I could handle Ellen Degeneres. I don't have a problem with Ellen, but I absolutely refuse to walk onto some talk show where I have to do some retarded dance as I come in. I cannot do that. Am I repressed? I don't care if people think this makes me repressed. It's just too silly and it's not me.


I truly do not desire fame. I just want some security and some money. Towards that purpse, any fiction I write I would prefer to be published under a psuedonym. I believe I would like something very dark and memorable, like 'Sal Gallows' or 'Matt Mortis'. Could I get away with a nomme de plueme like that?


My anonymity is something I will not give up if I don't have to.


Damn, the coffe's good in here. It's vastly better than Starbuck's, and it's not genetically modified. I like that in a coffee shop. Ah, it's an independent coffee shop. One of the staffers has brought her golden retriever in today, and he's playing with some yarn. He's been social with me and let me pet him. You won't get this in Starbuck's.


When I'm finished my coffee, I'm going to visit a nearby comic book shop. I'm jonesing for new issues of several Star Wars titles I've been following faithfully. Older and older, now forty, and I'm ever the Star Wars geek. You couldn't have told me when I was ten years old that I would spend so much time in this coffee shop.


I'm actually here waiting for someone, who in fact I met here for the first time on the last occasion I was here, about a week ago. I seem to have missed him unfortunately.


Otherwise, my social life is slowly beginning to revolve around this place and this block of South Street. I have a buddy who is a quasi-famous graphic artist who runs a silkscreen place across the street, and I often sit with him in here. I'm hoping I run into him today. Like myself, he has an ascerbic wit and I've been discovering in him a far more powerfully cynical worldview than I had seen in him before.


When this man had his own turn at fame, I didn't know him yet. By his own account, he handled it well until his fortunes took a downturn, and then in a moment of bitterness he worsened his situation somewhat. I intend to handle things better than this, keeping in mind what he told me happened to him.


His company got bought out, he hadn't bought the shares, and when he was let go he bit his former colleagues on the ass over the phone and got himself effectively blacklisted. This company was Wizards of the Coast. He kicks himself today, but he's on the road back up. At least he can say that he's truly self-employed and is doing well.


I would hate to do that to myself with everything I've already survived. Right now I'm trying to improve myself and reassess my life after seven and one-half years of teaching in city public schools. If I were to abuse myself with an attitude of recklessness and close avenues to myself, creating needless hardship, I would become powerfully disappointed in myself. Fortunately I'm speaking in subjunctive mood and I expect to be older and wiser when success comes.


I've made the decision to to be a professional writer. My question is: what exactly will I be writing when I finally establish myself? A friend of mine offered guidance in this matter by pointing out that I should write about history. Yet, I feel insecure about my knowledge of history. Am I truly expert enough to write about history for money? I think not. Then again, I could be shortselling myself. It's hard to say. After all, I am educated, but my education isn't specifically in history.


What shall be my muse?


I'm tapping the shift key on my bluetooth wireless keyboard for my new PDA so the device doesn't sleep. The device keeps polling the keyboard on the bluetooth frequency, and if there isn't at least one keypunch of some sort within about two minutes - I think I have it set for two minutes to save on power, although I have a deluxe battery - it'll power down. If I don't turn it back on soon enough, I'll have to reenter my password. Fortunately it saves my work. In a sense, this sort of thing has been the story of my life.


I have often simply been tapping the Wireless Keyboard of Life simply to keep going until I find out exactly what the hell I'm supposed to be doing.


What a metaphor! (Damn, I have to hold down two keys and then hit another to get higher punctuation on this thing. Chalk it up to the necessities of miniaturization.)


In the end, however, I'm going to leave the question unanswered in this piece. I'm going to continue to pick friends' brains and to meditate upon the question at hand until I make my choice.




For now, I absolutely must keep tapping that shift key, keeping my screen lit and writing the occasional thoughtful discourse until my electronic oracle (another metaphor, I assure you) returns an answer.


And, I'm still sitting here in this café on South Street. At least it isn't Starbuck's.

------
The Alienist
jhfurnish@yahoo.com


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