Me: Hey! How are you?!
Always Jacked (AJ): Oh. Hello.
Me: (pats blog on shoulder) How ARE you?
AJ: Fine. You?
Me: Busy! (nervous chuckle) Work has been nuts. I changed jobs, so there was that. Had a lot of running around at Christmas. Fun stuff. GOOD stuff. But busy.
Me: How are you?
Me: Is everything OK?
Me: You seem mad at me.
AJ: Why would I be mad at you?
Me: I don’t know.
AJ: Really? You don’t know?
Me: (I sigh and squeeze that little part of my nose between my eyebrows) Just say it.
AJ: I haven’t heard from you in a while.
Me: There it is.
AJ: You asked.
Me: I told you I’ve been busy.
AJ: Busy didn’t stop you from binge watching two seasons of Arrow in October.
Me: First, don’t judge. Second, stop stalking me, stalker.
AJ: I can’t stalk you. I am you. I’m in your head.
Me: Then you know what the past couple of months have been like.
AJ: The past four months.
AJ: The past four months. The last thing you wrote was on September 12.
Me: That’s. Uh. That’s a long time.
Me: Don’t look at me like that.
AJ: Like what?
Me: Like I’m full of shit.
AJ: What’s the point of having a conversation with a metaphorical construct if you’re not honest?
Me: I don’t know what to say.
AJ: Just say it.
Me: No. I mean, I don’t know what to say. What to write.
AJ: Please tell me you have a more interesting problem than writer’s block.
Me: No. It’s not that. All my posts feel the same.
AJ: Haven’t you read almost every Stephen King novel? They all sound the same, too.
Me: It’s more than voice. It’s the ground I cover. The letters I write the boys. They’re all of a type. I’m in a rut, but it feels bigger than a writing rut. Like a life rut.
AJ: Shake it up. Write about something else. Write something else.
Me: It’s not that easy. Sometimes, you make me feel like a liar.
Me: Because there are things I won’t talk about.
AJ: Like what?
Me: Like being frustrated with the kids. About the strain of trying to keep life together. About worries and angers.
AJ: You’ve written about worries before. Like here. And here.
Me: Don’t do that. Don’t point me to old posts. I hate that, when blogs do that.
AJ: I’m not trying to improve my bounce rate. I’m just saying. You’ve written about worries and fears before.
Me: Not all of them. Not about how I worry that I’ll lose my job and we’ll all have to live in a cardboard box. That I don’t engage with my family enough. That I’m not a strong enough role model. That I’m going to be someone they look at when they’re teenagers and think, “God, I do NOT want to be like him.” Not about how I think that I’m not a very good father. That I spend too much time working. That I don’t give them what they need to flourish. That I worry about how they’re going to turn out and that some of my crap is going to end up being their crap. About how I worry about making grand plans and not following through. That I don’t pay enough attention. That I’m not getting the job done. I don’t write about those things. And when I think about writing those things, I wonder if anyone would care about any of those things, anyway. I’m just a parent trying to keep it together and there are a lot more who have it a lot worse than I do so who gives a shit? It’s navel gazing. So I don’t write about that stuff that much and I don’t know that I really push my writing because I also have to worry about having another job, so then I worry I paint this picture that I’m this amazing dad and it makes me feel like a fraud, so it’s easier to not write anything.
AJ: How’s the book going?
AJ: You heard me. How’s the novel going?
AJ: Write any of that lately?
Me: (examines shoe laces) No.
AJ: For someone who wants to be a writer, you don’t write very much.
Me: Thanks for that. Why don’t you ask me how my running is going, too?
AJ: There’s nothing wrong with being scared.
Me: Who says I’m scared? (incredulous look, that one Angela had on her face all the time in My So-Called Life)
AJ: You do. Every time you don’t sit down and write something. Every time you come up with an excuse to not do the work. Every time you avoid something. It’s fear. Plain and simple.
Me: If you’re so smart, then what am I scared of?
AJ: It doesn’t matter.
Me: How can it not matter?
AJ: Because no matter what it is, it’s holding you back. Ignore it. Do it anyway. You’re not going to push your writing or express yourself better or grow as a person by not doing the work.
Me: You sound like a Nike ad.
AJ: Better a Nike ad than the little voice you pay too much attention to.
Me: You know about that guy?
AJ: It’s a woman. And yes. I’ve got plenty of company in here.
(a kind of, but not really, awkward silence)
Me: So, now what?
AJ: That’s up to you. But I’ll tell you this. There is nothing selfish about wanting something for yourself. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to write, no matter what you heard or were made to feel in the past. There is nothing wrong with doubting your ability, unless it stops you from doing the work. Because that is the only way you get better and find yourself. Do the work. Study people whose work you love. Commit commit commit.
Me: So, you’re saying I should be committed.
AJ: Stop deflecting. Sarcasm is only cute when you’re in your twenties.
Me: Actually, I think young cynics and smart asses are irritating.
AJ: Point taken. Moving on, because I’m not going down this rabbit hole with you. One last thing. Writing is difficult. But it is not painful. You don’t work in a coal mine. You’re not missing a leg. Get over it. Get on with it. And own the fact that you love to write. Why would you parcel so little of yourself to something you love? So what if no one reads me? You never sat down to write this for anyone but yourself and the boys anyway. The fact that anyone besides your wife reads this is a gift.
Me: Pretty small gift, according to Google Analytics.
AJ: Again with the sarcasm. How’s your work writing going?
Me: Fine. Well, actually.
AJ: Why is that?
Me: Because I get paid for that. I have to write for an audience.
AJ: And there it is. Start treating this like a job, not a hobby. What’s that line from Franny and Zooey you love?
Me: If you’re using all of your ego, you have no time for hobbies. Because you are doing exactly what you’re supposed to do. Or something like that.
Me: Thanks for the advice.
AJ: It’s your advice. It’s the kind of thing you’d tell your kids. But the thing about that kind of advice is that it applies to you, too.
Me: So now what?
AJ: Write something.
Me: But what?
AJ: Something honest.
AJ: Now go get to work.
A Conversation With My Blog
Me: Hey! How are you?!