Horseshoes and hand grenades

In my early days as a writer I forced almost everything. I thought I sounded more interesting by using big words, even if it meant they were sometimes out of context. Legit: I would blog the big words and look them up before posting and if it sounded passable, to the point where I could stretch the truth if I had to defend myself about it, I’d just let it go. Better to sound intelligent than actually be so.

And this was a common practice for a couple years. I eventually salted it away until I got to the point when I only used those types of words when they were in context, but even then I sounded like an asshole. Despite being correct I was still forcing it. I was so insecure as a writer, and still am in a lot of ways, that I felt the need to jazz everything up. In the moment the result probably achieved its desired effect. The people who liked to read my stuff weren’t very smart, because they thought I was smart.

There is so much irony in life. It’s honestly what makes it so worth living so much of the time. The older I got, the more “advanced” at writing I became, and therefore the more simple the words have been. Intellectually I was incredibly dishonest as an 18- and 19 year-old. Don’t get me wrong, the ideas and concepts were as fire as they have ever been. But I was lying to myself, and I knew it. Even then. I knew the ostentatious language was disingenuous. I was trying to fool everybody as I was fooling myself.

So it is. I made the decision at some point that no matter what I wrote was going to be true. I was going to be as specific as I could possibly be simply by saying what makes sense to me. And what makes sense to me are words that most people understand. I will admit to being able to turn different parts of my brain on and off depending on who I am talking to. It’s amazing what words I can eliminate from my vocabulary when I’m around kids and elderly folks. I use “fuck” and “shit” and “goddamn” and “bitch” as much as any other uneducated person, but on certain occasions they simply cease to exist.

Then there are other times when I will be dealing to a group of young people and all of a sudden I am talking like I’m back in San Bernardino with my buddies or other randoms who speak the same way. I like saying “mid” for some reason. I like saying a lot of things that only certain demographics understand. The other night I was dealing to a couple white guys from North Carolina and “y’all” just kept coming out of me. I didn’t have to try. It just happened. I’m shocked that I didn’t find an opportunity to say “that dog’ll hunt” or some shit.

There are also rare moments when you can use the exact word that needs to be used, because the person on the other end understands it. My lexicon is above average, I would say. To call it vast would be a stretch. But it is the best feeling in the world not having to hold anything back. Once upon a time I studied communication, and I am always impressed by the ways that its value is revealed to me. I know how to talk to people, which helps because it’s basically how I make my living. And I don’t think it’s any secret that my writing is so accessible as a direct result of how conversational it so often seems.

Again, it’s simple. Nobody wants to feel like they are a simple person, that they like simple things, or that they are reading simple words. People want to feel like they are complicated, and so they enjoy the things that feel complicated. Including books, and blogs. I think my writing sometimes bridges that gap between what is easily digestible and what is actually not at all. I offer these words at an 8th-grade level most of the time. That is the age for whom professional newspaper-style writing was made for. But I also give a few winks, I write between the lines on occasion, and I think if you know what that’s all about then you can appreciate it, too.

For me, I don’t do this for anyone other than myself. I love to work and make money to afford the minimalist lifestyle I live, and I also have dialogues in front of a computer screen since this is truly my labor of love. It’s what I would do if I had a hundred million dollars in the bank and it’s what I would do if I had nothing at all. I do it almost every day through various mediums. Nothing ever beats the high I get when I have a pen in my hand, the same brand that’s tattooed on my right arm, but I will argue that this is a close second. I don’t need Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat or anything else. This, right here, is my proof of life.

I have been many places and I have met many people and I have seen many things. I am numb to so much. My first love was mathematics, the precise nature of numbers. My second love was writing, the exact opposite. Here I do not have to be precise. I do not have to prove anything. I can say whatever I want, in whatever way I want, and I can own it. My writing has taken on many different forms over the years, but all that’s really saying is that I have taken on many different forms over the years.

And here I am.

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