Henry Rollins

How to Deal With Fucking Up

I started writing at just about the time I wanted to smash my keyboard. Inside my cubicle inside an office inside a warehouse, I had six hours a day to burn at a family-owned camera business. There was windows, no escape. No one could hear me scream. 

It wasn't that writing was keeping me sane, it was just that everything else was driving me nuts. I was so frustrated I daydreamed cursing out my best friends because they couldn't make simple dinner plans. Something was wrong.

Before that I was just devouring YouTube videos to no end. I found stand-up comedians and slam poets, psychedelic lectures and storytellers good enough to pass the hours before and after lunch. Every one of them had an amazing vision of the world.

And suddenly it made sense for me what I should write about - ideas.

Former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins was a regular in the rotation. He has a poetic passion for pushing his limits. He enjoys books most people can't even lift and he performs with the fury of a dragon. And it all bled over into his bite-size YouTube stories. And most recently I found this quote to be most apt to where I am now: 

"Half of life is fucking up. The other half is dealing with it."

Although writing can be a meditation or practice, there is always room for growth. It took me a long time to get where I could publish regularly. It was way after I quit the job where I started putting my time into my words. 

And so looking back over a hundred weeks of blogging, I wanted to see how I've dealt with fucking up as I went along building an audience. What were people absorbing when they sat down to my blog?

Of all of them, the following are the Top 11 most viewed and commented on:

Walking Through Existence with Some Fly Kicks - #8
Beyond the Bored Zombies and Dreaming Too Little - #19
Collecting So Easy a Caveman Could Do It - #25
Connect the Dots, See the Picture - #27
We're Not Superheroes, We're Hitters Up to Bat - #28
How to Die Working - #78
Why Not Rethink Technology? - #84
Puzzles of Interest in Brooklyn - #90
How to Experience the Dreams of the Waking World - #92
Embracing Unpredictable Change - Explode #95
Moving On, Untitled - #97

Nothing really jumped out at me linking the titles, themes, or reasons for commenting on any of them, much less all of them. I was glad to see some of my favorites resounded with some readers, but when it got down to data, there wasn't much to go on. 

What it came down to was what the actual audience took from it. When I couldn't stare at the titles anymore, I turned and asked my friend Alejandro. He didn't miss a beat. He said something like I often wrote about a problem that initially frustrated me beyond words until I found myself relaxed enough to come to terms with it. It seemed to me like some kind of public therapy. Or cautionary tale. Or self-help book in the most actual sense.

And it's true. 

Walking Through Existence with Some Fly Kicks was about my frustration hauling junk when a customer questioned if I was strong enough to lift a metal desk. Writing it out gave me the ego check that it wasn't about my abilities, it was about putting myself in her shoes, understanding she was more worried about her home being damaged.

Collecting So Easy a Caveman Could Do It was a retrospective on the amount of crap I collected from my days junk-hauling and the realization I needed to make that I was hoarding too tightly things I didn't have any passion to fight to keep.

How to Experience the Dream of the Waking World was one of my best. I enjoyed writing it. It was about coming to terms with my emotions, whether I was feeling down or ecstatic, and understanding it was all ok in this dream of a life.

Writing is just as it is when I found Henry Rollins on YouTube. It is always a struggle, it is always a challenge. It is putting my world down into words. When it comes to content, though, I have to like what I do. I couldn't write it if I didn't. I would start smashing keyboards again. 

It couldn't have been good to just sit and devour clip after clip either. Experimenting with life and not just words has to inform my writing. It is the reason the posts where I observe and experience my cross-country roadtrip, coping with the deaths of loved ones, or moving to Brooklyn have been the most appetizing for me and my audience. It makes me more of a real person having something going on than to simply be a brain on a stick. Anyone with some patience to put words down can do that. It has to be a search for me.

In the words of Rollins, I'm only fucking up because I'm human. Writing helps me sort it out and move on. And in that way there is always material and always an audience.