Monday, November 24, 2008

Stop that Train

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Just when I got into a routine, it's time to shake it all up again. I'm a creature that feeds off of my environment. If my surroundings are dark and down, well, I'll slip into the depths of hell. If it's sunny and cheerful, well then I quickly adapt and radiate the light. I have to be careful about what and where I allow myself to meander, and I often try to put me in a position where I can absorb positive energy and inspiration... since both are few and far between. But most of the time on my travels, I find a cool and hip spot and want to chill out there for a while, but then life intervenes and I have to bail.

Another flight. Another assignment. Another deadline. Another location. Another event to host. My time? Seems like it's always devoted to someone else.

Sometimes, my ideas get lost in the shuffle. Wandering through airports. Sifting through hundreds of emails. Deleting thousands of words that just don't seem right.

I often wonder when will be the day when I can sit in one spot for more than two or three weeks at a time (that won't be an extended stint in Las Vegas for the WSOP). I wanted to write three or four months in an orgy of creativity, but that's impossible. I'd love to get thirty days of unstructured and unfettered time. If I get three, I'm considered lucky. I proved to myself that one week of solitude would do wonders for honing my craft and healing my body and soul --- bruised and weathered from so many months and years on the road.

It's easy to reflect on a series of experiences when I'm in one stationary place and mellow headspace. When I'm constantly on the move, it just goes against my nature to dwell upon the past. I have to live in the moment and part of that is just simply survival mode since there are so many random encounters on the way.

Not to mention the wayward artist in me who has picked up a lot of bad habits that many of my colleagues in the poker media are notorious for... and by those bad habits, I don't mean cool shit like drug, sex, or gambling addictions. I mean, I already had all those and in someone I'm sure those negative traits of mine are rubbing off on those folks. Rather, I'm concerned that I acquired a slew of poor writing habits. Shortcuts. Overall laziness and apathy. It's rampant these days. Some kids just don't get paid enough to really care about their work and the the veterans are too jaded and simply embittered to give a rat's ass about the overall quality of their work. Sometimes I look back at some of my previous assignments and I cringe that I got paid to spew and spin that utter horseshit, while other times I'm simply amazed at how I managed to string together sentences and a paragraphs without a net and on such short notice.

I write less and less by hand these days. In my early 20s, I always had a notebook. Always. Of course, at the time, I did not own a computer let alone a lap top. I have boxes back home in NYC that are filled with old journals and notebooks. I wrote a ton of stream of consciousness back them. Some lines I plucked out of thin air and some of those are staggering in simplicity and complexity in the same breath. You can never be a budding artist again and I have warm memories of those moments when I scribbled together a poem about an old lady I saw on the subway or the daggers of pain you experience in the middle of losing someone's love or just riffing on the quirkiness of the big city. Someday, I'd love to string all that together in a book about my 20s living in Brooklyn on the fringe of society.

I say this a lot. "This would be a good book."

I already wrote four and a half novels. I started/stopped the Vegas book so many times now that I don't even know what the fuck I was trying to achieve. And let's not forget all those grandiose ideas that I'd love to turn into screenplays. Seems like I have plenty of ideas for new projects and plenty of unfinished ones. Yet, I never can find time to work on the old ones and instead I'm cluttering my plate with new assignments. I keep waffling back and forth between the now and the future. I need to make money in the now to secure my future, but spending too much time working for others tends to make me grumpy and my ability stagnates.

Of course, I have this conversation with myself and Nicky and my friends every few weeks. I infest my blog with these brain dropping at least once a month. I realized that I've been sending mixed messages, often confusing, to many of my clients. Am I in? Or am I out? That's a good question. They never doubt the quality of my work if I'm in. They know that I'm a dedicated writer. But although I often get to the point where I want to leave poker and as many hints that I drop to say that I'm going to leave... I never actually do so. Too many responsibilities. The pay is too good which makes me a whore. It's like my life is this huge runaway freight train and I can't stop it. The only way for me to change any sort of direction is to jump off when no one is looking. That way, no one can track me down and I can complete those projects that are most dear to me, yet seem to be the ones that I neglect the most.

It's mot enough to say that something is important to you, you have to prove it.

The last few days haven't been dedicated to writing, rather, I have been scanning my electronic notebooks - which includes Twitter, orphaned doc files, and other pages of my journal (in laptop format) that no one gets to see. I don't know what I'm searching for. Maybe, I'm just trying to pick out a trend or theme that seems to be bubbling to the surface but I have no idea it exists. Yeah, that was part of it. I finally recognized that one thing that had been egging me on for sometime. Now that I identified it, what will I do with it? Will I just brush it under the rug or will I make the necessary changes in the upcoming weeks to make it a life that fits into my vision instead of the convoluted vision that others around me (other includes society, family, friends, the poker industry, and my inner demons) have influenced?

Or maybe, I can keep the train roaring down the tracks and sneak off without anyone noticing and catch up with the train at a later destination? That would be a perfect solution in my dream world. But in my reality, there's simply too much. Football. Holidays. Family. Friends. Girlfriend. Gatherings. Deadlines. Tournaments. Blogs. Too many blogs. And not enough time.

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