An Interview About Writing on Medium

Why do you keep writing on Medium?

What do you mean?

Why do you keep doing it?

First off, I write for myself. Then I sometimes post things on Medium.

You post on Medium almost every day.

Ok, maybe this is true but I write for myself first.

And you post on Medium because it says you have over a thousand followers?

Yeah, it is kind of cool to think that I have that many people reading my stuff.

You know that is a big bluff right? You know that this is a huge, well thought out scam played on writers?

What are you talking about?

I am talking about manipulating writer’s deepest sensitivities and longings. The creators of Medium have found a way to do this. Every writer dreams about having over a thousand or thousands of readers. But you don’t have a thousand readers on Medium. You are lucky if you get ten. The people who designed Medium just set things up so it seems like a lot of people might read your work.

Why would they do this?

Because, it keeps people posting content to their site. What better way to keep people posting content for free than providing them with the idea that lots of people follow their work. It is a genius concept but the trick is being played on the writers. Medium consumes content in the same way that your stomach consumes endless amounts of food. They live off the content posted to their site. They are sucking writers dry so that they can continue to thrive. And what do writers who post on Medium get?

What?

The illusion that they are being read by many. Now maybe if you post popular kinds of content you might get more readers, but still it is not as many as you think.

What do you mean by popular writing?

You know, the stuff that the not so smart masses want to read. The stuff about how to become a better and more productive person. The stuff about technology and business. The “How To” stuff that people consume and then forget about in a few days because they have moved on to the next meal. This is the stuff that Medium fills up on. They are just a consumer of endless amounts of motivational and technological content. None of what is being written on Medium will matter in a few years, let alone a week.

Shit, that is bleak.

Yes, and you try and post quality, creative stuff on Medium. You try and post what could be considered literature but no one wants this kind of content on Medium. It is not easy and motivational enough. It makes readers to aware of parts of their lives they wish to forget by reading popular motivational content on Medium. The irony is that in a hundred years, some of what you post on Medium may be the only stuff still being read.

So you are saying that Medium is a good long term, preservational platform for my work?

It has that possibility for you. You can use Medium in the same way that they are using you.

How so?

You let them manipulate you into thinking you have thousands of readers and you let them consume your hard-earned content for free but you potentially get a platform that will preserve your best work for centuries to come.

Hmmm. Never thought of it like this.

Medium is filled with a sea of crap. Often it takes humans half a decade or more to find the quality stuff. Medium is one safe space for your work to dwell in obscurity for a while. You are the fish out of water on here.

But if I was a fish in the water with all the other fish, I would have a lot more readers. I could possibly make money and get more known from what I write.

Yes, but your work will be completely forgotten in a hundred years. With what you are writing now- you still have a shot. Short term pain for longer term gain.

Interesting. Well, thank you for the perspective. I really appreciate it. It helps.

Sure. Oh, and also for what it is worth- you might get a few more readers now and then if you get better at editing what you write.

Yes, I know but I am imperfect when it comes to this skill. I do the best I can. Besides, few real writers are ever any good at editing. I am perfectly comfortable with fucking up. A real writer without an editor is like a bike without a rider.

I understand. You do the best you can with what you got. There are some real writers, as you put it, who are also really good at editing.

Yes, I know. But they are not the majority.

Yes. This is true. A real writer is good at creating the soul in what is written and an editor makes the soul presentable to the reader. This is why most writers are not real writers- there is no soul in what they write. It’s almost robotic.

Exactly. But the editing is great.

Yes. True.

Well, thanks again for your perspective.

Sure. Keep at it man. Don’t give up. You are good at what you do.

Thanks.

I Choose Depression

When I told my mother that I am dealing with depression she said, “Well son, depression is a choice.” Then she quickly escaped any further conversation about it by making up a story that she was in a meeting and had to go. What meeting? My mom has not worked in over twenty years.

Even though I felt deeply wounded by her quick dismissal of my pain, I thought about what she said. “Depression is a choice.” Am I choosing to be depressed?

A fellow psychotherapist whom I sometimes have lunch with deals with serious depression. But he is one of the happier people I know. He often says, “I choose joy. I choose to be joyful because I have to.” Really? You have to? I find it odd that someone who is very depressed could appear so happy. Something seems very forced and inauthentic about it to me, but who am I to judge? Don’t most people do this?

Deep down, depression is a choice. It is true that I have little interest in happiness. I find positivity and happiness to be incredibly banal and superficial states to be in. If I am happy, great- I will enjoy it. But it is the pursuit of happiness and positivity that I think is responsible for so much misery.

As a psychotherapist, the one thing I hear all the time is, “I just want to be happy.” This I feel is the root of most people’s unhappiness (and empty bank accounts).

I choose not to be happy. If happiness shows up, as it sometimes does, I don’t turn it away. I enjoy it. But I choose to not strive to be happy and positive. I don’t think I should be happy. In fact, I think the desire to be happy is just as dangerous as driving a motorcycle at high speeds.

Depression is a logical emotional reflection of the world we are living in today. Just like a pool of water reflects the sky and trees that hang over it, depression is a reflection of the world the soul is living in today. The soul is lonely and in a state of terror and despair. The soul is sad about all the sensless violence all around. The soul feels under threat from the absence of creativity and authentic community in our working and private lives. The soul feels stuck by political and economic conditions outside our control. The soul feels empty because the more it tries to find fulfillment in external things, the more alone and empty it feels. The soul is quite frustrated in the Capitalistic world of today.

And then there is the simple fact of our own mortality. The fact that everything we love, everything we hold close to ourselves, everything we have earned, even ourselves, will disappear. When a person really looks closely at the image being reflecting by the pool of water- depression is what they will see.

Most chose not to look at all. Just keep looking away. Say you have a metting to get to.

My mom is right though. I do chose depression because depression is what I see reflected back at me, especially in my work as a psychotherapist. I mean how could I hear about the worst things that happen to people in life, day after day, without feeling depressed? How could I be a psychotherapist and be happy? Happy Psychotherapist is just another term for Sociopath Psychotherapist, Psycho Psychotherapist or plain old Shitty Psychotherapist. If a therapist is able to be happy while hearing about the worst things that happen to people, stop seeing them. They do not care about you, even though they may act like they do.

The best psychotherapist I ever knew, who was given all kinds of awards and wrote several books and was a prestigous mentor to many including myself, jumped off a bridge.

If I am going to provide guidance to those going through the various difficult aspects of life, I want to be one of them. I want to get real with myself and stop pursuing fake dreams of Hollywood induced happiness. How else can I really help? This is what I learned from him.

In middle-age, my life has become more about learning how to live with, learn about, accept and get better at describing the image being reflected back at me, rather than trying to change it, run from it, fix it, deny it, worry about it, complain about it and/or ignore it (common stratageies in the America of today).

Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone. This is my strategy. I leave my depression alone. I see it and accept that it is there. I lean into it and learn from it. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I just notice that it is there and smile at it. Sometimes I notice that it goes away.

Because of depression I am pushed further inside of myself. I am forced to let go of any kind of belief in the attainment of any real Hollywood fulfillment through economic and material gain (consumerism) and instead work towards transmuting my loneliness into real solitude.

I meditate. I contemplate. I sit alone.

Loneliness is a terrible feeling of disappearing even when we have so much and are around so many. When lonely, we can never get enough and are continually in pursuit of more. We even feel separated from ourselves when alone so we turn on the TV for company. Solitude means to be at home in ourselves. A person who is in real solitude is a person who is comfortable within themselves. A person in solitude is a person who is no longer disappearing. They have arrived. They are two people in one. Friends with themself. A person who is dealing with lonliness (which is the majority of people in American society) is no one in one. They have no friend within to sit with.

The person who is striving for happiness is often no one in one. This feeling of being no one within is the fuel that keeps us searching for more. Some of the greatest empires and fortunes have been built by these kinds of people. But this striving is an endless pursuit because it is the pursuit which is creating the loneliness.

Depression pushes us down into solitude. The person with depression is given the opportunity to become more at home within themselves by being pushed further within. The person who survives and successfully manages depression is the person who has been able to move from loneliness into solitude. Those who do not survive depression or who end up having depression destroy their lives, have not been able to move through loneliness. They get stuck in continually feeling as if they are disappearing inside because they are pursuing happiness on the outside.

So yes, I do chose to be depressed. Why not? Depression helps me to relate to the world in a way that feels more logical and sane. The happiness and positivity craze that the vast majority of people are suffering from at this moment in history, only leads a person away from themselves and towards more lonliness. Just do a Google search on the amount of people taking psychiatric medications and buying self help books in this country. The pursuit of happiness and positivity creates a superficial existence that lacks substance because it is always in pursuit of something. Depression is deepening. It pushes a person further within themselves because there is the realization that the loneliness in the outside world can never bring them the happiness they were looking for.

Fuck happiness. Stop buying their books and going to their workshops. Stop ingesting their pills. By now don’t you see that it does not work? Instead, get better at being depressed.

It is only through going further within, through the deepening of one’s relationship with oneself that real solitude can be attained. And it is when we discover solitude within ourselves, that we really start to live free.

This Blog Is Now Blocked!

This blog is now blocked.

WORDPRESS has blocked my blog from the general public.

Now this blog is rated CENSORED, DEVIANT MATERIAL INSIDE.

Make no mistake about it- WORDPRESS IS A RELIGIOUS AND RESTRICTIVE INSTITUTION. ONLY CERTAIN APPROPRIATE THINGS CAN BE SAID HERE.

If you use the word MOTHERFUCKER in the title of a post you run the risk of being blocked.

Very said that a writing platform like WORDPRESS oppresses authentic expression and is so threatened by words like MOTHERFUCKER.

NO authentic/good writing can happen on a platform that will block and restrict your mode of expression if it feels like you are becoming inappropriate.

This is why WORDPRESS had become a main perpetuator of crapy writing in the world. WORDPRESS supports CENSORING writer’s voices if that writer’s voice expresses sentiments that are not in alignment with what they believe is right.

I will no longer have anything to do with WORDPRESS obviously. How could I? How could any real writing ever happen here?

WORDPRESS is like the TARGET for writing. It sells cheaply made products, for lower prices, that look kind of like the real thing but are far from it.

I am grateful to WORDPRESS for giving me a platform to write on. I am grateful that I was able to slide by under THE WORDPRESS BIG BROTHER CENSORING APPARATUS for as long as I did. It was my way of saying FUCK THE MAN while I still could.

WORDPRESS is now telling me I have said ENOUGH on their public platform. Ok.

I have been caught by the religious institution known as WORDPRESS, probably turned in by some religious WORDPRESSIAN disciple who can not handle a few bad words in their daily on-line reading.

There are a lot of very controlling and fascistic people out there who operate under the title of PEOPLE OF FAITH. Sad that a platform like WORDPRESS has lost the courage to stand out from the masses and has instead become an INSTITUTION FOR PEOPLE OF FAITH.

-Randall

On Loneliness

I wonder if dogs or cats or birds feel loneliness.

I did not realize until this morning that loneliness is the unpleasant feeling that is eating away at me, especially in the mornings. I have always wondered why I am so unhappy and negative in the mornings. Now I know.

Do I feel lonely in the afternoons or evenings? Is the unpleasant feeling still eating away at me but I am now too distracted to notice? In the mornings my wife is still asleep and everything is quiet. In the afternoons and evenings there is work, texting, email, booze, interactions with other people, television, occasional going out and having fun. I keep busy and maybe this is why I do not feel this lonely feeling as much during afternoons and evenings. Maybe. But when I come home in the evenings or get in bed at night, the feeling usually returns. So I pick up my phone, eat more, turn on the television or read a book.

Is it because of my lonliness that I can be such a jerk in the mornings? Is loneliness the feeling behind all that depresses me?

I wonder if my need to always be reading, listening to music, checking my emails and texts, is all just an attempt to flee from the feeling of loneliness inside me.

Is this deep feeling of loneliness what has been bringing me so down over the years?

Up until a few years ago, I do not remember feeling as depressed as I have recently been. I wonder, if my lonelines continues, will my depression get progressivly worse? Even just writing this makes me want to cry.

For the longest time I did not suspect loneliness. Me lonely? No way. I am married to a beautiful and cheery wife (who spends much too much time on her phone). I have four dogs and a library filled with books. I spend my days working as a psychotherapist and have non-superficial interactions with a lot of people. I lead several very full groups each week. I spend time with my sister and my wife’s parents at least once a week. I have dinner with my own wife almost every single night. With all of this going on, how could I feel lonely?

I always feel isolated inside my own inner world. No one understands or grasps what I go through from day to day. Can anyone understand what we all go through internally from day to day? Isn’t this why we all feel so alone? No other person can ever understand what it feels like to be us. The end result is always loneliness.

But to feel alone when in the presence of other people can be the worst kind of feeling. I hate it. I want to run away from it. I drink to make it go away.

To feel like there is no one who understands you. To feel like there is no one who shares similar values as you do. To feel like there is no one whom you have the same interests as. To not feel like you have stimulating and engaging conversation with anyone. To be together but still feel so alone and disinterested. To be with others but feel so unseen. It has driven many people into a self induced early graves. I believe this is the feeling that caused Kurt Cobain and the wonderful writer Edouard Leve to take their own lives.

I feel so isolated from everyone around me. I try hard to connect but there is nothing there that feeds me. I am usually left starving. I don’t find interesting the banal ideas that populate their minds. Maybe it is my fault. Maybe I am no longer open to take anything that they have to offer me in. Maybe I have shut down. Closed the doors. I feel so uninterested in what these people have to say, that I have stopped listening. I have been so bored by people, I have been so disinterested by other people that I have given up. I have become totally disengaged, thus isolating myself even more. (One main hazard of the psychotherapy trade.)

I engage when I must in order to make money, but am always left feeling flat with nothing left to give. This must be similar to what a prostitute feels when having sex for money and being so unfulfilled by these sexual experiences that he or she loses interest in sex with everyone. It is a terrible situation to be in. One that leaves a person starving inside.

I suppose I write to help fill myself up. Writing as a kind of force feeding. I write because I want to connect with someone. I write because I want someone to understand me. I want to share something in common with someone else. But even writing leaves me feeling empty. I get nothing back and this just exacerbates the loneliness even more. This is why I have started to give up on any kind of literary success.

I don’t know what to do. Maybe I should turn more to drugs. This is why people use drugs. A person forms a relationship with drugs because it is the only relationships, often, that makes them feel less alone. You can count on drugs to be there for you every time. They can make you feel less lonely inside. I don’t know if I want to do this to my life.

I will keep trying to assuage my loneliness by reading books where I feel something in common with the writer. There are not many writers I feel something in common with since most writers are just trying to make a buck. I only finish books written by writers who write because they want to feel less alone. These are the only writers I am interested in. When I find a writer who feels like a friend I feel better for a bit. But I get sad when I know that many of these writers killed themselves.

I don’t think that smartphones are helping. Sure, I use the internet as a way to feel less alone. I use text and email also as a way to feel less alone. But these interactions often leave me feeling more empty and alone. I also find myself les able to read as much as I would like because I am always reaching for my phone. I also feel more disconnected from other people because they too are combating their loneliness by going on their phones rather than putting effort into things that will make them more engaging and interesting people to spend time with.

Smartphones turn people into unattractive, distracted, bores. I am surrounded by people (including myself) obsessed with their smartphones. We have sold out for the quick fix of shallow communication and connection.

I don’t know what to do. Most of my time is spent alone. Lost in the meanderings of my own brain. I need to be alone in order to feel “better.” When I am with other people but feel alone, I feel terrible. I feel mad. I feel disengaged. I feel like I am wasting time. I would rather be alone with myself. This never feels like a waste of time. But it always hurts.

The Wall of Lonely and Unstable and Strange Men

I recently finished a project called The Wall of Lonely and Unstable and Strange Men. It is a wall drawing that I used black ink pens to draw, over the course of the past year. The idea came from a group of mentally challenged men who walk past my house, several days a week, on their outings. They are some of the less fortunate members of society, the one’s who have dropped out of the game. I thought I would pay tribute to them in some small way. It was a pain in the ass. The first few days were fun but after that I kept thinking, “What the hell have I gotten myself into?” Now that it is finally finished, I thought I would share it with you. Enjoy and thank you for your support.

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What’s The Point?

What am I doing here? I am not asking an existential question. I am asking a realistic question. Why am I doing this? Why am I making such an effort almost every day so that you can be reading these words? What the hell is the point of this? Why do any of us do it?

First off, few of us are being paid for these digitalized words you are reading. We are giving it away for free while the websites which carries our writings makes money from the content we provide. What the hell is the point of that? We are not even getting a dollar a post. I have a friend who is a published novelist. He publishes with an independent press. He writes six or seven hours a day and receives a check every month, which allows him to live moderately. He is what I call a “real writer.” He is not giving it away for free all though occasionally he will post on his blog. Being a “real writer” is possible for some of us but most of us just keep giving it away for free. Why?

Most of us who post these kinds of things are doing it for free. Why? Oh, I know, it is a labor of love. We do it because we love to give expression to the ideas that machinate in our heads. It is not about the money. It is about helping others or inspiring others through the words we write and as a result getting out ideas out “into the world.” What a bunch of bullshit. There are few things I despise more when people will say to me, “Don’t give to receive, just do it because it is rewarding to you. Expect nothing back.” What a bunch of crap. Of course, we all want to succeed. We all want to be appreciated. We all want some kind of acknowledgment that what we are doing is really good. When this is not obtained in a way that feels satisfactory to us, it is miserable to try and convince yourself that you do it for the love of it.

For the most part, posting writings on-line for free on a regular basis is a thankless job. Readers feed off your blood and sweat and sometimes tears and then forget about you. Like any other glutton, readers are always looking for more from you but then poop it out when done. Sometimes they will leave an appreciative comment but for the most part all you get in return is a deep feeling like you don’t get much in return. But you keep doing it anyways hoping one day things will work out. Someday you will really matter. What a bunch of crap. What will happen is that one day you will either give up because you realize there really is no point to what you are doing (as far as improving the quality of your own lived experience goes) or you will keep writing and posting on-line and end up bitter and pissed off because you have gotten so little back from the surrounding world.

What the hell are any of us doing? Are we really so narcissistic that we have to articulate the thoughts that spin around in our heads even if we know we are giving it away for free? Do we really need to be heard that badly by others? Were we really that ignored and un-listened to as kids that we need to feel like our voice matters as adults? The various blogging sites provide us possible narcissists with platforms to post our thoughts on. While they make all the money from what we write, all we get in return is this illusory feeling that we are being heard, understood and appreciated. That our ideas matter. And for narcissists, feeling like your ideas matter is the most important thing.

So we are willing to sell our labor for free. We are in such a desperate need to be heard, to be listened to, to be validated, to feel like we matter that we are willing to write, edit and post all for free, all the time. What suckers we are. Maybe we will get a nice comment or two in return from some person we will never be in the physical presence of, from some person who is basically a digital ghost occasionally haunting us. Maybe we get some temporary satisfaction knowing some one far out there is processing our words in their heads, but what fools we are. What is the point of this? Why can’t I stop doing it? Maybe I just figured all that out.

How To Get Almost Nothing Done.

I need to get my head on straight here. I have been procrastinating all morning. Watching various videos. Leaving status updates on Facebook. Posting drawings on Instagram. It is 12:03pm and I am still wearing the clothes I slept in. Why am I doing this? What is it that I am looking for? It certainly feels easier than dealing with all the things I need to get done.

My toilet has been wobbling for weeks. Need to bolt it to the blue tiled floor. My bathroom walls have holes that need to be patched up. I have closets and a garage that are filled with junk and in desperate need of being organized. I have yet to return phone calls that are days old. I have several unfinished novels and short stories begging for my attention. I need to pay bills and call the financial aid office because I am in so much debt that I have not even bothered thinking about paying it back. For years and years. I could go on and on with the things that I am not taking care of but this doesn’t sound like fun.

There is currently a public service announcement on the college radio station that I have on, which is recommending taking deep breaths as an antidote to the epidemic of stress that fills all our jam-packed lives. Instead of breathing, I seem to have chosen retreating. The more that I must get done it seems that the less I want to do. I am like a person who eats a lot to lose weight. It is reverse logic. I realize that the more I retreat the heavier my life will get. But for whatever reason, a large part of me is all right with this.

There are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who are pro-active and organized. These people usually are very good at doing things that do not have an immediate benefit but require being fully committed, effort and consistency. They are not afraid of hard work even though it may not be fun. It seems easy for them to work hard at something that they are interested in for long periods of time. These are usually the people whose films we watch, houses we buy, books we read, classes we take, restaurants we eat in, planes we fly on, surgeries we subject ourselves to and on and on. Then there are those people who do just enough to get by. The only thing they really stick with is not sticking to things. They give the minimum amount of effort to just get by and then when things get hard they retreat. They go take a nap. Read. Drink a beer. Read. Go on Facebook or Instagram. Read. Listen to music. Nap. Read. This second kind of person is me.

Isn’t a blogger someone who wants to do the minimum amount of work in order to still remain a writer? This would be me. As soon as working on a novel or a short story gets tough, I become frustrated and bored and want to do something else. In fact, whenever anything gets boring or frustrating I seem unwilling to put in the work it would require to get it done. Instead, I go do something else that feels more fun even if this means sitting on my couch and staring out my window for hours. I do just enough to get by and it is only when I reach a crisis point or things get urgent that I will do more.

Isn’t this what the status quo means? Doing just enough to get by and then enjoying your life (or not) on your off time? Go work on your car, take out the boat, work in the garden, listen to records, clean your home, go to a movie, hang out with friends, read a book, watch a Netflix series. You work your job because you need the money and then when work is done you just hang out. To answer my own question, yes- this is the status quo. What would not be the status quo would be putting consistent effort into something that you are interested in but may or may not work out down the line. Even though I am not happy about it, I seem to have chosen the status quo. Life just feels easier this way.

I know an older man who feels like he has failed in his life. His life has been filled with anxiety, worry and despair. He has worked hard at his job as a social worker for thirty plus years but he told me that when he is done with work all he thinks about is resting and chilling out. “This is how I avoid stuff,” he tells me. I see him sitting there with his large belly, his marital problems, his expenses, his dislike of his job, his tired face, his head filled with stress and worries and I can not help but feel terrified that this man might be me in ten years. But how does one change this tendency to make a hundred excuses for why they do not have to fold the laundry, keep working on the novel, stay in the relationship, pay all the bills, exercise or call the financial aid office right now? I am a psychotherapist and I have no idea. Some bad habits seem hard wired so deep in our brains that we will do just enough, make the bare minimum effort to try and figure them out. Then when this feels like no fun anymore, we will drop it and go do something else.