This is a chronicle about the labyrinth.
The labyrinth is the place you find yourself in when you lose your way in the night.
I’m a writer. I’ve always been a writer and have the degrees (and accompanying student loan debt) to prove it. Since I was young, I’ve loved stories. I’d read anything. One teacher called me an omnivorous reader. As a child, my mother would yell at me to stop reading the back of the cereal box (”It hasn’t changed since yesterday!”) or I’d be late to school . And she knew that with a good book, she could keep me busy and placated for hours.
And then at some point, I realized something… Someone wrote all those great stories I was reading over and over and over. And if someone else could do it, why couldn’t I?
So I began to write…
Well, mainly I began to talk about writing. And talk. And talk.
And people began to talk about me. ”That Tony,” they’d say, ”he’s gonna be a good little writer!” And my teachers would overlook the hastily-written last-minute essays, the carelessly scrawled homework and awkwardly organized drafts because, hey, I was a writer, right? And after a while, even I began to believe it.
But like every good story, there’s a dark side to it. Every hero needs a villain, and the best villains live inside you, masquerading as your fatal flaw.
I was casually acquainted with my fatal flaw, but not on a first-name basis until much later. But he knew me. He knew me better than I knew myself. He’d buy me a drink and say, ”hey, let’s sit down and catch up! Tell me what’s going on. And talking is just like writing, so you don’t have to feel guilty!”
And don’t even get me started on girls! My fatal flaw could find a cute girl and direct my gaze to her in any environment! I could get a crush on the cutest nun in the convent! And thinking about them? My fatal flaw was in heaven over that. Because that could divert me from writing for hours! Weeks! Months!!
My fatal flaw was Fear. Like a lot of other writers. Hell, like a lot of non-writers. Sure, it looked like Laziness, but Laziness is Fear’s ornery little brother.
Fear goes deeper. Fear takes your hand and leads you into labyrinth, where hope is lost. Fear is the voice in your ear, saying ”You know you’re not really a writer, right?”. Fear is the tug at your mind that pulls you back from sleep, telling you they’re going to find out you’re really a fraud. Fear is the constant unwanted ally that finds something else, anything else for you to do other than writing. Fear is the gut-churning possibility that… you’re not really good enough. That your words will never make it to the page as vibrant and alive as they are inside your head.
Fear is a mean little pr*ck. And takes great joy in stopping you. In turning your dreams into a lost cause.
Over the last decade, lots of things have taken the place of writing. I directed theatre. I did publicity for a fan site. I volunteered on political campaigns. I developed a taste for architecture (my second passion). I still wrote, and (despite some small success) I still found myself dreading it. I was lost in the labyrinth, not even seeking a way back to the daylight. It was comfortable and safe in the twisty turning darkness. No one bothered you in the darkness.
And if I occasionally remembered how the light felt on my face in the summer sun, or the electricity in the words that poured out of my fingers when I knew it was working…? Well, that was the past, wasn’t it? And the past should stay the past, right, because people who tried to escape the labyrinth were seldom heard from again by those good and proper souls who kept their heads down and didn’t listen to the dreams that whispered to them in their waking hours. And you try not to think of all those wasted years in the darkness, because that only leads to Regret. And if Laziness is Fear’s bratty kid brother, then Regret is his sad-eyed spinster aunt.
Clarence Darrow is rumored to have said, ”Lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for.”
Last year, someone I valued very highly came back into my life after a long absence, and she began to ask me the questions that illuminated the labyrinth I had built for myself. She began to gently nudge me towards the light again. She reminded me of what I had once been. She reminded me that I was a writer… and that I still am, no matter how deeply hidden in the shadows it is.
But as much as those who love you want to help, the only one who can get you out of the labyrinth is you… the one who got you there in the first place.
So that’s what this blog is for. My fight to find again what I lost sight of, to cut my way though the jungle and find Cibola. My personal sandbox about writing and hopes and dreams and fighting for lost causes. And if you want to… come along and we’ll see what we can discover.
And hopefully bulldoze that freakin’ labyrinth to dust.