In order to write the book you want to write, in the end you have to become the person you need to become to write that book.
– Junot Díaz
Today was an important day; I needed today, I needed a reset. Hence, walk to park with blanket and books in bag, and call Marquitos – my best friend going on fourteen years – to come join me.
After a couple slow and beautiful hours of accomplishing little besides reading intermittently and skipping through my music selection, I ended up striking up a conversation with a nearby beachgoer, which turned into one of those great and expansive “think aloud” sessions full of life-affirming truths – new and old.
We talked of love and religion, of morality, of family, of small-talk that’s not small, and of our mutual dislike for [New England] Patriots fans.
For our time together she was my muse, stepping into the real with me and drawing out the song in my heart – a song of yearning and optimism, of ideals, of hope.
I recall and write of our conversation because it was a catalyst for me; I left knowing I would not forget the things we spoke of – but I was also given clarity, thine eyes to see – it was not unlike the feeling I experience after yoga, mind blowing sex, or meditation. She had given me le petit mort and I felt confident and free.
Afterwards I came home to nap but could not, the sunset was calling – and so, intent on staying in the real, I walked down to the water’s edge with headphones and journal in hand.
Admittedly it has been awhile, weeks actually, since I’ve journaled. I had filled my previous journal but for some reason didn’t maintain continuity in writing daily in the new notebook – perhaps having something to do with the fact that it was a gift from my ex-girlfriend, complete with a personalized inscription, signed with her love. Regardless, I was eager to resume the ritual of daily journaling, a practice that is immensely fulfilling and deeply centering. True ‘connect to your inner voice’ / authentic-self type stuff.
Now, I’d like to tell you I wrote in my notebook and that it was good – only I didn’t – I did something else; I walked along the shoreline in a thoughtful and deliberate fashion, thinking of my plans as a writer and making big decisions about the future of this blog.
Up until now I have written on a myriad of topics over the five years I’ve been writing here. To give you a little backstory – this blog began merely as a medium for me to document the lessons I wanted to impart upon my future generations – part of my legacy in a sense; however, it naturally became something more, something cathartic, something central to my identity. And so it was, last year, when I made these major life shifts and decided to devote my life to writing that I began self-publishing poems and becoming once again [as I was for years past] a literary minded person; although, this blog of course still did not have a central theme – beyond the vast, Grand Canyon of my most haunting thoughts and feelings – thoughts and feelings which have at times seemed to have almost climbed their way over the walls of my mind.
If you’re reading this – thank you, particularly if you are a follower or email subscriber. My followers have thus far come via word of mouth and I have never promoted 7Saturdays beyond casually informing friends and acquaintances of it’s existence – an existence made all the more bleak by it’s spartan, almost featureless design.
In addition to properly skinning this site with a customized theme, I’ll also soon be changing my writing approach. Instead of haphazardly publishing everything I write here, I’ll be focusing on publishing my poetry, essays, and short stories exclusively in journals and magazines, while I continue working on the two novels I am writing, leaving 7Saturdays to be the new home of my Journal. No more privatization of my innermost thoughts. Think of me as Hemingway meets Carrie Bradshaw. Part of my mission is to show people what it means to be a fucking human being, and to do that I’m going to need to bleed a little – I’m going to need to put some skin in the game.
I desire to be a prolific writer. But I’m not one of those writers who merely likes to hear himself think. Having just recently started reading through my previous journal and reflecting on it’s contents, I see that the focus of my journal entries is on my relationship to my thoughts and to the world – on being a better, more whole person. And just as I did in my journal, I may write 50 words some days – while others I may write 500. It depends on what I need to iron out, what thoughts of mine need exercising, and what silent inner dialogues need to be brought to life.
I want to do my best to remain authentic and true to my own self – a duty Shakespeare described as our most important in life – that being said, my entries may read like Hank Moody’s personal escapades, and frankly my dear: I don’t give a fuck. This is not to say I’m apathetic to my actions, but I am a real person – I make mistakes, I sometimes do stupid things; I’m a human being, but I try to be more human than my mistakes, and that’s what I reach for in my writing – humanity, what’s Good, Beautiful, and True.
These aesthetic and moral tenets are the foundation of my art. I believe as John Gardner did, that good art is life affirming, that it seeks to improve life, rather than debase it.
To improve life, the world, I am going to have to take the advice of Joseph Campbell and teach people how to live in it. That means focusing on things I think matter. Thankfully the timing for my writing career to begin couldn’t be better, as the initial and perhaps even the central and lasting themes of my work are beginning to show themselves in my dominating thoughts. These themes include the impact of society on the individual, technological “progress”, love, wellbeing, human development, sexuality, gender, race, spirituality, philosophy, and self-actualization. There’s a lot more to my ethos than a handful of broad topics can encompass, but I’m really interested in fiction as a vehicle for something larger than itself. Fiction as myth and myth as mirror for the ego, as Joseph Campbell once quipped.
I can’t describe what it’s like having the stories and the messages inside of me that I do.
William Faulkner described the plight of the born writer well:
“The writer’s only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is worth any number of old ladies.”
And so it’s been that many of the things I once held dear have gone by the wayside. In the past six months I’ve said goodbye to a three year love, and moved out of a place I could no longer afford to live in. As J.K. Rowling once said of her pre Harry Potter life, Rock Bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
Two-thousand fourteen was the most significant year of my life; I became whole in twenty-fourteen, and as Carl Jung said – I’d rather be whole than good.
I had to let down a lot of people this past year to clear the decks so I could redefine myself, but I had to let myself down most of all; I had to let go of the life I had planned to make way for the life I wanted. In twenty-fifteen, this means being Lawrence Black the writer – the iconoclast – the only man I will ever be for as long as I live.
I believe in literature. I believe in story. I believe in human fulfillment over the narrowness of having to choose between fear and pleasure. I believe in living beyond the chains of the Amygdala, from a place of authentic inner-truth – a place of beauty, a place of good. This is not an impossible place to reach, but living in the real requires knowing when to reset, move forward, aynd follow folly. It’s not easy, but the reward is tasting of death but once.
I was one who seeks, and I still am, but I no longer seek in the stars or in books; I’m beginning to hear the teachings of my blood pulsing within me. My story isn’t pleasant, it’s not sweet and harmonious like the invented stories; it tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves.
– Hermann Hesse, Demian