Michael Brown

The Paradise Wars and Clark Ransom Thrillers

How I Faced Being “Different” and Wrote a Novel

Haven’t we all known someone whose enthusiasm, instead of being infectious, made us want to step back a bit? Cross to the other side of the party and engage in conversation just a little more mundane?

But what if it’s that “odd” character who allows you to close your evening with the feeling that night had indeed been different, that somehow your mind had been sparked.

I have wasted so much energy trying not to be that odd ball.

But maybe it’s time to accept I am who I am.

Becoming a Zealot

Before, when I was much younger, I bestowed my opinion about everything to everyone.  I didn’t do
it to prove I was smart or knew something you didn’t.  I did it because I was psyched.

Sure some of that enthusiasm was over-the-top, like my enthusiasm for Transcendental Meditation or a particular diet. Over-the-top, because I was unsure about my choices, and the more unsure the harder I pushed for others to follow me.

I became a zealot.

I wasn’t different from the young man, who daily sat next to me on the bus as I commuted from Providence to Boston to manage a Japanese print gallery in Copley Plaza. He’d ask me once more, forgetting he had asked me the day before, if I had been born again. Did I have Jesus in my heart? Irritation built into rage as he persisted. I snapped: I’d been born once into a world where idiots like him resided and once was sufficient.

Yes, I was haughty, pompous, and saw no connection between his zealotry and my more New Age variation on his theme of trying to feel safe in a not-so-safe world.

Rude Awakening

It was my best friend who took the brunt of my fanatacism. Certain if she would listen to me she’d find happiness, I’d harass her to take up meditation or exercise or read Proust.  I nagged her for  years.  She was the model of grace.  At times she would read something I suggested, but only because it already appealed to her.  She never told me to tone it down, until one day she had had enough and asked me if I ever tired of being a know-it-all.

She might as well have slugged me in the face. I blushed to my core. I was mortified, because I knew she was right.  And I went silent.

And I stayed silent, until in the search for the right voice for my novel, The Consecration of Jacob Jordaens, I discovered once more in my young narrator’s voice, that passion, that interest in letting the world know the world’s impact on my consciousness.

Finding a Voice

In finding Jake’s voice, I found my own. I began to examine my interests aloud: someone else might be entertained, find a book they might like to read, or a perspective they might like to consider.

I began to wonder, if I kept it all inside, what was the point of having the experiences at all.

Here I am, oddness and all, writing about everything from classic literature and philosophy, to wishing I knew more about math, to everything Eastern, to occult–theory and practice, to drawing (which I can’t do, but want to), to software, to Reality TV, to People Magazine, to Gossip Girl,  and to who is the latest celebrity to come out.

Writing here, as if I’m speaking to someone, allows me to explore. Allows me to remember.  Allows me to reinforce the enthusiastic me.

Whether you want to step to the other side of the room, is up to you.

True, I could be boring.

However, I hope some of you will join me in this corner and dare to spark something new.

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12 Replies

  1. Chris mccaskill

    thought-provoking…
    May we all come into clear and deeper contact with our own voices so we may share them more profoundly with one another.

  2. Gail

    There was a time I felt exactly as you described. Knowing it all felt safe and I suppose somewhat arrogant. Now, in my older years, perhaps a little more wiser, certainly more experienced, I now feel I know nothing; nothing that really matters and the question is “Is that better or worse?”

    I come to San Miguel and hope that in this special place I will find the vehicle that will express all that my heart yearns to share.

  3. Michael Brown

    And what a nice big heart it is 🙂

  4. Michael Brown

    Yes indeed. I keep telling you: you’ve got to let that writer demon out 🙂

  5. Mike

    Michael, having dabbled in zealotry myself from time to time in life (as you well know) your observations have drawn me in.

    Knowledge is a funny thing. Fun too. The exhilaration on the path is wonderful. Often the intoxication links up with enthusiasm, a very good thing. Pretty soon one knows a lot. Mix that in with a strong sense of Righteous Indignation, one of my mother’s great gifts. Combine that with the perspective of Be Here Now. And Voila! … Truth, Participation, Activism, Zealotry. You know, good stuff. Then, along the way, the dilemma: Off Putting v. Putting Aside. Productive v. Counterproductive. Etc.

    Turns out nobody knows it all, but that doesn’t diminish what one knows. Be here now, stand up, speak. Some will listen.

    By the way, your best friend, model of grace, the one who delivered your comeuppance… I flashed and wonder, was that your mom?

    Keep speaking

  6. Michael Brown

    Interesting you thought it was my mom. It wasn’t. We’ll have to talk about that some time 🙂
    Thanks for dropping by.

  7. Lori

    I have often felt that way… and wondered if anyone really wanted to listen to me!!?? I also began to realize that many don’t really care about others talking… so I learned to listen and not be heard. So I will select who I share with… and… I will always try to measure their reactions to me… as to not bore them… Now there’s a New year’s resolution !!!!

  8. Michael Brown

    I agree. It’s good to judge reactions. Unfortunately, hard to do with writing. Have to wait until you’re read to see if you are thought of as boring or crazy 🙂

  9. MARY P

    SOMETHING I HAVE TRIED TO DO IS TAKE THE COTTON OUT OF MY EARS, PUT IT IN MY MOUTH AND LEARN SOMETHING WITHOUT PUTTING MY 2CENTS IN!

  10. Michael Brown

    Great way to put it! 🙂

  11. carol walk

    Hi Michael, This is fun, getting to know you in a different manner. Oh, could I be so honest about who I am and what I think I know! I find it very frightening to put into words my deepest awarenesses about myself. When I deign to do it, depending on who I share it with, I find it not as different or weird as I feared.

  12. Michael Brown

    I’m glad your sharing now 🙂

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