The Discipline of Something

Cranial-rectitis. A lot of writers/dreamers suffer from this affliction. I know I do...

So I’ve been cranking away here on ye olde blogge for a couple of months now, making almost daily posts, finding a groove in terms of subject matter, beginning to really feel like I’m discovering my niche, and suddenly…

…nothing. Nada. Zilch. Squat.

You know – like the public’s reaction to Mitt Romney in 2012.

I opened my laptop this morning, clicked over to WordPress and expected another blog post to roll out. Sure, they’ve been a little on the serious side lately, what with all the talk about dreams and grief, but they’ve been – in my estimation – good. They’ve flowed from somewhere inside of me and the writing has rarely been easier. Until this morning.

Heck, until even now.

This is hard. I’m reading it as I type and I’m thinking crapcrapcrapcrapcrap. I’m trying desperately to think of ways to elevate it, to give it life, but it just ain’t working. There are no jokes to rescue me, no semi-serious Confucius-like quotes to toss out, there’s not even a heavy meditation on some aspect of life. There’s just my big dumb blank head.

And despite my lack of anything substantive to write about, I’m still pounding away on the keys. Even though I know almost no one in their right mind would want to read this, I keep on writing. It’s not because I believe it’s suddenly going to become gold (and even if it did, as Ponyboy Curtis said, “Nothing gold can stay”), but because I need to be disciplined.

I need to keep myself in line.

If you’re like me, there are so few things in life that you absolutely have to make yourself do. That pile of laundry? I’ll get around to it. That stack of dishes in the sink? I’ll get those this afternoon. Hit the gym? Why sure, right after I spend some time with the kids. There are things in my life that are necessary for me to do, but not necessarily to be done now. And so I give myself permission to let it slip, to take some time for me, because the world is demanding enough as it is.

Usually when I do this, my wife almost instantly yells, “I need you here. Now. Kindly remove your head from your butt and help.”

And she’s normally right – I can catch a quick case of cranial-rectitis in a hurry. But the truth is, we are all this way. We all have things that we don’t want to do, let alone make ourselves do, but when it comes down to it, that’s what is required: we have to make ourselves do those things.

It’s like with Jonathan and food. The boy doesn’t want to eat anything that isn’t sugar-coated and double-dipped in fudgey goodness. We have to strap him into his little booster seat and hover overhead like the CIA’s black helicopters to make sure he eats one bite of broccoli. He cries, he screams, he throws his food and fork on the floor, but in the end he eats that bite of broccoli because it’s good for him. He eats it because if we want our son to grow up and be a good person, he has to know the discipline of something.

And what’s good for the son is good for the father. Otherwise, I’d be a lousy freaking father.

So here I sit, banging away like a sugared-up monkey on a piano, trying to maintain some semblance of discipline in my writing life, because my writing is what fuels the rest of my life. It’s my dream. I bang away so I can have more moments like the one I had today with the lady who cut my hair.

I had a book on my lap, So You Want To Write, and as I got up from my haircut the stylist saw the book and said, “Oh – do you want to be a writer?”

“Yeah,” I said, holding the book up.

“Well, keep at it, you’ll get published one day.”

“Actually,” I said, “I’ve already been published, and have another article coming out in Atlanta Parent magazine in July. Plus, I write two popular blogs.”

“Which blogs?” she asked.

“Jason Muses, and I write one for the Loganville-Grayson Patch website.”

She thought for a minute. “Did you write the blog about Mama Bear yesterday?”

“Yes I did,” I said proudly.

“I read that. It was funny. My friend told me I needed to read it, and she was right.”

“Thanks,” I said.

By this time she’d rung me up and I was headed for the door.

“Keep writing,” she called. “You’ll hit it big one day.”

“I hope so,” I called back.

And so here I sit. Because I need to be disciplined. Because I need to chase my dream. Because I’m making progress, dangit, and I don’t intend to go back.