In the footsteps of Hotblack Desiato, I’ve been taking a month off dead, for tax reasons. Well, OK, not really for tax reasons. The Korean government treats me relatively well when it comes to hoovering up the monetary crumbs in my fiscal wake, and I have long been out of the purview of the long arm of Revenue Canada.
But I certainly have been dead, at least from the neck up. Occasionally during the course of the last month or two, as the caffeine rush has hit me, I’ve had a Brilliant Idea flash up on the Times Square text-crawl on the inside of my forehead, then just as quickly disappear, before I actually worked up the energy to write it down.
I’m not entirely sure why this might be, other than the damp lassitude that comes with the ‘monsoon’ season here in Korea, when the rains come and the whole country starts to smell and feel like the inside of a fat man’s underpants. Not that I’ve spent a lot of time rummaging around such places, mind you, but I got me an active imagination.
And I do have some theories.
The most plausible is performance anxiety. Since it became as certain as these things ever are that some of my offhand screeds were going to be included in the upcoming ‘Best of Web Writing‘ book (which should be finalized and ready to get magically transformed from bits to atoms in the next 8 weeks, according to a recent email from the publisher), I’ve felt a little weird about writing. Back when I was posting something every day — being a realio trulio weblogger, half self-promotion, half self-regard and half community-cheerleader (I know that’s three halves. I am large, I contain multitudes) — and I was pushing the thousand uniques a day envelope, with a couple of times the number of daily readers I have now, oddly, I didn’t think much about it. Just had a coffee or a beer or something, and whacked out some brainfart that was temporarily stinking up the room, to clear the air a bit. I imagine that many of those people who once visited the site now read it through the newsfeeds, and I may well have more readers than I did back then, but they are invisible to me, basically, and off my Pay Attention To Me Waaaah! radar.
I’m not sure if that reticence to dance in the spotlight for fear that it’ll just suck is a good thing or bad. Probably bad, because if you don’t write, you’re not a f–king writer, right?
I even sent the bastard an email that could be summarized with “Dude? WTF?” to inquire if he was just yankin my crank. He replied in the negative. Proud — astonished, is more like it — am I that someone I’ve respected and sucked up to for so long thinks so well of my stuff, but I think it pushed me over the brink into the ‘crikey how can I live up to that?!’ swamp.
Not to say that I’ve spent more time revising or rewriting any of the infrequent posts I’ve made in the last month or two, of course. Hell no! But I did cringe when I hit the post button, which has to count for something.
And not to say that I don’t bask in the praise like a puppy with its ear being scratched. I do. Don’t stop now!
My other theory about why it is that I’ve if not gone dry, at least had a dam built upstream somewhere, is that I’m healthy, by god. Rude, animal health. All bulgy muscles and efficient oxygen exchange. Meaty, beaty, big and bouncy.
I started working out, you see, for the first time in my life, about 7 months back. About 4 1/2 hours a week, weights and treadmill and stationary bike. My 39th birthday came and went a couple of weeks back, and I’m in better shape than I have been in my life. It pleases me, especially considering that given the lifestyle I enjoyed during my 20s and early 30s, I’d figured I’d be dead by now.
But I’m kinda thinking that the life of the mind might suffer in some way when the meat is singing. Has there ever been a Real Writer who worked out at the gym? I’m not talking foofoo yuppie reactionaries like Brett Easton Ellis or someone like that, here. I mean mad bastards, one of whom I have always considered myself to be. Hell, I don’t know. But the persona, writerly and otherwise, that I’ve invested so much time grooming over the past few decades just doesn’t marry up with sleekness and throbbing muscley health.
It’s not that I feel that much dumber, per se, it’s just that, for the first time in a lifetime of flesh-hating, I’m feeling pretty comfortable inside my skin, and at the same time, the locus of Me has shifted downwards a couple of feet.
Balance is good, they say. Maybe it’s just that while the changes underway in the ways my mind and body work together are consolidated, I’m off balance, and it’ll all settle into a new pattern eventually. Hell, I dunno (redux).
But like I said, maybe it’s only the weather.
Either way, I apologize for not writing more to those who like to read the meandering mental travelogues of the wonderchicken. For now though, let it be known that I haven’t been on a half-assed hiatus because I’m unhappy. Just the opposite.